Under the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017), specified public bodies have a duty to refer at-risk households to a local authority housing team. This means a person’s housing situation must be considered whenever they come into contact with a wider public service, such as a hospital or GP practice.
Some services listed here target specific groups (e.g. women, young people, those with mental-health issues), while, for others, the only referral criterion is that patients are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Streetlink: Enables anyone to raise concern around someone sleeping rough
- Groundswell: Supports homeless people being involved in delivering solutions to homelessness and addressing their health needs
- Streetvet: Multi-award winning Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons registered practice delivering free care to the homeless and their pets
- Dogs on the Streets: Not-for-profit charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the UK’s homeless community
- The Pavement: Magazine released every two months with details of shelters, foodbanks and health services for homeless people; practices can order copies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone is eligible to register with a GP and receive primary care services free of charge.
Regardless of a patient’s immigration status or if they are homeless, they have a right to register and it is not a contractual requirement to provide proof of address or identification. If a patient lives in the area and is homeless (e.g. rough sleeping, sofa surfing etc.) they can be registered using the practice’s address.
Practices are encouraged to become a safe surgery. The safe surgery initiative supports GP practices to tackle the barriers to healthcare faced by people in vulnerable circumstances, especially migrants, refugees, people seeking sanctuary and homeless people. It is a simple process to sign up and the requirement from practices is minimal, simply a commitment to ensure that anyone seeking to register is welcomed without the requirement to provide documentation.
The safe surgeries toolkit is designed to help primary care staff support patients living in vulnerable circumstances realise their right to healthcare, get the most out of their general practice, and access the information they need to keep safe in a Covid-19 context.
By becoming a safe surgery, you are showing your patients and community your commitment to equity of access for all.
The initiative will also support the CQC requirement to support and provide care for different groups of people.
Area specific guidance for Islington
London Borough of Islington’s priority is to help people avoid becoming homeless. The council housing team can do this by negotiating with the people your patients live with or their landlord, giving advice, or by helping them to find another home quickly.
To refer someone to Islington Council for support with housing, contact as below or visit the Islington Homelessness website.
t: 020 7527 6371
Integrated Network (MDT discussion)
If you are concerned about a complex patient who is homeless, refer to the INC team for MDT discussion through usual routes or contact Ayse Cinko.
Area specific guidance for Camden
The Camden Health Improvement Practice (CHIP) is a GP practice for homeless people and those with substance misuse, alcohol and mental health problems. It provides a mixture of drop-in and appointment sessions.
To access these sessions, patients need to be registered with the practice. New patients can present at the drop-in sessions and register on the day. Alternatively, patients can call 020 3182 4200 to book an appointment.
The service offers:
- GP registration
- vaccinations and on-site blood tests
- sexual health screening, contraception and cervical screening
- in-house treatment for HIV and Hep C
- opiate substitution treatment
- food vouchers.