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Homeless Persons (Health Care)

Volume 13: debated on Thursday 19 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what specific improvements in access to primary health care services for homeless people have been made by individual health authorities in England and Wales since the statement of his policy in the House on 29 July 1980; whether he has met representatives of the health authorities and the British Medical Association to discuss that policy since then; and what guidance he intends to issue to the incoming district health authorities on these needs.

Responsibility for health care for homeless people rests with individual health authorities and it is for them to maintain, plan and develop such services in the light of local needs and priorities. Information about specific improvements in access to primary health care services for homeless people by health authorities is not held centrally. The Department has, however, helped health authorities to fund the walk-in medical centre in Great Chapel Street, Soho as part of its encouragement of experiment in health care for homeless people, particularly in relation to the identification or improvement of access points to health services.Neither I nor my colleagues have met representatives of health authorities or the British Medical Association since 29 July 1980 to discuss health care for homeless people. There are no plans to issue specific guidance to the incoming district authorities on the provision of health care to this group.The report "Primary Health Care in Inner London", commissioned by the London Health Planning Consortium and published in May 1981 looked at the problems of delivering and organising primary health care in London; and made a number of recommendations relevant to homeless and transient patients. The Department has asked the authorities concerned to consider the report as a basis for action, and is giving careful consideration to those recommendations for which the Department is directly responsible.