Eight practices and one out-of-hours emergency service will now treat homeless patients in a new scheme launched across Greater Manchester.
The programme, Homeless-Friendly, was created by Dr Zahid Mehmood, a managing partner at the Royton Medical Centre.
Starting today, 2 October, it aims to tackle inequalities surrounding homeless patients, who often struggle to see a GP.
‘We want to see a cultural shift towards homeless people in the way that everyone from banks to supermarkets has changed their attitude to those with dementia.
‘The NHS is a superbly compassionate organisation with a real zeal for improvement, so where better to start than in our surgeries?’ he said.
The practices include:
- Fallowfield Medical Centre
- Dam Head Medical Centre
- Longsight Medical Centre
- Beacon Medical Centre
- Medlock Medical Centre
- Royton Medical Centre
- Dale Medical Practice
- Lime Square Medical Centre
- BARDOC (Out-of-hours emergency service)
Homeless-friendly offers advice to charities and other organisations on how to help the homeless meet their needs and fight the roots of the problem.
Although homeless people are entitled to register with a GP practice, many are turned down and don’t receive the help they need.
Often, they face a number of barriers, such as difficulties in booking appointments, no proof of ID or address and literacy problems, and are forced to visit Accident & Emergency (A&E).
According to the latest data, 35% of homeless people had been admitted in A&E and 26% had been to hospital over a period of six months.
Dr Chauhan believes that if homeless patients were first treated in GP surgeries rather than in A&E services, taxpayers would save millions of pounds.
‘Local surgeries are still at the hub of many communities and understand their needs in a way other organisations do not – and so I passionately believe that they are the best flag-bearers for this campaign.
‘But it is my great hope that Homeless-Friendly extends beyond the surgery into our whole society. When it comes to homelessness, a sense of pity only goes so far,’ he said.