Labour’s Hull Road councillor Michael Pavlovic has called for a return of specialist medical support York’s homeless population.
Recent freedom of information figures released by the British Medical Association (BMA) have shown an almost 40% increase in homeless hospital admissions between 2013 and 2018 in York, putting more strain on York Hospital’s emergency department. Cllr Pavlovic stated that this coincides with the removal of specialist support, and that this is almost certainly a contributing factor.
The specialist GP service was based at Monkgate, and allowed the street homeless, those living in hostels, and traveller families to gain medical treatment and advice from professionals who specialise in the issues affecting those groups.
He said: “The Personal Medical Services clinic at Monkgate was a great service that was highly regarded by service users and homeless support services alike. It enabled specialists to develop personal knowledge of each individual patient, and to gain their trust.
“Unfortunately that service was removed in the past few years and we are now seeing part of its impact on acute hospital services. It is no surprise to hear from Dr Simon Walsh at the BMA about the impact increased hospital admissions is having on medical staff.
“I, and others I’ve spoken with working in this field, strongly feel that a return to a readily accessible GP and nurse service would be hugely beneficial not just to patients, but to the health service, staff and to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) too. This is because as we know, intervening early with health problems saves money and prevents the need for more expensive treatment in the long run”.
A King’s College London report in 2018 highlighted that those in hostels and living on the street have significantly higher levels of physical and mental ill health and premature mortality than the general population, as well as being more likely to have higher rates of serious and multiple health problems, and higher rates of problematic drug and alcohol use.
The Department of Health estimates that people who are homeless consume around four times more acute hospital services than the general population, and stay three times longer in hospital than those who are not homeless. Coun. Pavlovic says this makes a strong case from both individual health and financial perspectives for returning this specialist service.
He said: “We call on the CCG, homeless support services and City of York Council to proactively work together to give serious consideration to a return to this specialist support service.
“Revisiting the provision of specialist support for the street homeless and those living in homeless hostels would go a long way towards helping these people in a more meaningful way, and showing that whatever someone’s life circumstances, we value each life as much as the next”.