As well as providing emergency medical care, Croydon’s doctors and nurses will be offering additional support to people experiencing homelessness who live in the borough, to help them off the streets this winter.
The specialist team, which includes nurses, mental health professionals, GPs and supporting teams from Croydon Council, will work together with those at risk of homelessness to find somewhere safe to live and to support ongoing health needs. Care navigators will also be able to provide clean clothes and essential items and offer signposting to additional advice services.
Juliette Penney, Head of Public Health Nursing at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said:
“The NHS is here to provide medical treatment to those who need it. However, often those who need emergency care also need other support, which extends outside of the hospital walls.
“We really want to do more for the hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in Croydon who seek help. So we’re bringing together all of the right people in one dedicated team we can make a real difference to those living on the streets.
“It’s another important step forward in addressing the avoidable differences in health that we see across the borough. We want to thank our excellent partners including the Pathway charity and our SW London Health and Care Partnership.”
The service was launched at an event for local health and care professionals on Tuesday (7 December), introducing the Croydon Health Services Homeless Pathway Team and discussing the key areas that the team hope to tackle in their quest to end homelessness in the borough.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), homeless people often suffer from multiple health issues and the average death for women experiencing homelessness is 43 years, and 46 years for men.
Dr Subhro Banerjee, Medical Director and Emergency Department added:
“As an ED doctor, I often see homeless people coming through the Department for medical care, but they also need much more than that. Throughout the year, but especially during the winter period, sleeping on the streets can be a real health risk, with conditions such as hypothermia commonplace in colder months.
“We know that the cycle of readmission to hospital is more common for our homeless population and there’s real passion within the Pathways team and across the Trust to end this and improve the health of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
“I’m incredibly proud of the teams working tirelessly to provide joined up health and care for those who really need it and can’t wait to see the difference this service will make to our patients.”
South West London Clinical Commissioning Group successfully secured funding from the Department of Health and Social Care for this project which will initially be for a 12-month period costing around £360,000.
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, GP Borough Lead for Croydon and Croydon Local Committee Chair said:
“This scheme brings together all of the vital teams working across the NHS, Croydon Council and our community organisations to offer a rounded package of support for the borough’s homeless population.
“The health inequalities facing people in Croydon can be stark and we need to do everything we can to care for our most vulnerable residents. Alongside supporting people into housing, it’s hoped that this service will allow us to improve the overall health of local people and improve access to essential primary care and mental health services as well as financial and educational support.”
Leaflets and booklets can be viewed here, which signpost to a wide range of support: