GP clinic for North Devon's homeless to continue
29 March 2022
A bespoke GP clinic that serves North Devon's homeless people will continue for another year, thanks to funding secured by North Devon Council.
Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI) funding has been granted to the Enhanced Outreach team by the Government's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). This will enable the team to continue employing a GP to run a clinic for homeless people in the district one day a week.
The GP service, which has operated from the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple for 12 months so far, is provided through the Barnstaple Alliance Primary Care Network and enhances the services provided by the Enhanced Outreach team. The team is made up of staff from the council, Devon Partnership Trust, Together Drug and Alcohol Services, the Freedom Community Alliance charity and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust.
The main aim of the service is to support individuals who want to come off the streets into accommodation but the team also provides facilities such as showers and mobile phone charging for those who prefer to stay on the streets or have not yet been found suitable accommodation.
Management Lead for Barnstaple Alliance Primary Care Network, Sharon Bates says: "The last 12 months have been a great success for the GP clinic working alongside other health professionals to provide a joined up seamless service. Being able to take the service to the people that need it and run it from the Freedom Centre makes it easily accessible. This is an example of the difference that can be made when organisations work together and we are delighted that it can continue. We will be working hard to secure long term funding as part of a Devon wide CCG homeless service review that is due to be completed in Aug 2023.”
General Practitioner at the new clinic, Dr Nigel Moody says: "Having a GP as part of this multi-disciplinary team provides numerous benefits, we have seen engagement with patients who have struggled to see doctors in the past, we have been able to focus on neglected physical and mental health and started a foundation to correct much needed health equality in this often neglected patient group. The service has eased pressure from the four Barnstaple practices and although harder to measure we feel also on the emergency department. I am delighted that we have secured funding for a short while to continue this valuable service. I hope that in the future, this service is funded by the CCG as it is across the other three parts of Devon."
Lead Member for Housing at North Devon Council, Councillor Nicola Topham says: "We are thrilled to have been granted the funding that enables us to continue offering a bespoke GP service to North Devon's homeless population. This valuable service truly enhances the support measures we have in place for some of the most vulnerable members of our community and assists us in our plight to get every individual the help they need."
Residents are asked to use the Street Link website to report a rough sleeper they are concerned about.
Anyone who believes they are at risk of becoming homeless should get in touch with North Devon Council as soon as possible on 01271 388870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.