Providing vital healthcare to Bath’s homeless people

Dr Sharon Gillings and Dr Fraser Head

Homeless people in Bath and the surrounding area can now access vital healthcare five days a week thanks to the expansion of a key community health service.

From 1 May, the Homeless Health Care Service began providing homeless people with access to a local GP for an additional day each week.

The service is run each weekday morning from the Julian House hostel in Manvers Street, Bath.

The facility has a specially equipped consulting room which is kitted out with all the essentials of a doctor’s surgery. It is staffed each day by either an experienced nurse prescriber or male and female GPs from the newly-established Heart of Bath Medical Partnership, a result of the merger of Oldfield Surgery and St James’s Surgery.

For one day each week, a clinician will undertake outreach work and travel across the city to locate rough sleepers not using Julian House and who may need medical care.

Homeless people can need a wide variety of different medical care, from cuts and bruises to broken bones and support with mental health or drug and alcohol addiction.

By accessing the GP service at Julian House, they will also be able to receive vaccinations for flu and support for long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

Dr Sharon Gillings and Dr Fraser Head, from the Heart of Bath Medical Partnership, will run the GP service, supported by nurse Claire Coleman.

Dr Sharon Gillings said: “Bath has significant and growing pockets of deprivation and residents that aren’t able to access medical care in the traditional way. We at Heart of Bath Medical Partnership are a large organisation that can provide this flexible, specialised care.

“The NHS is a service for everyone and we look forward to working with Julian House to meet the health needs of our homeless population.”

Dr Fraser Head said: “”The Homeless Healthcare team has been providing specialist medical care at Julian House for many years and we look forward to the new opportunities that joining the Heart of Bath Partnership will bring.

“We will have access to the expertise within the partnership as well as increased clinical coverage during the week. I hope the services we offer to our patients will continue to grow with these new opportunities.”

Cecil Weir, Julian House Fundraising Director, said: “Having an enhanced medical service at our Manvers Street hostel is fantastic news.  Having on-site access to primary healthcare has been a vital part of the process for helping our clients to move off the streets and on to some sort of sustainable accommodation solution.

“The grim truth is that the average life expectancy for the long-term homeless is just 47.  Anything we as a society can do to change that statistic has got to be a good move.”