NHS England has announced that towns with high rates of homelessness are set for investment in specialist mental health care, as part of services for rough sleepers across the country.
Currently more than half of everyone sleeping on the streets lives with a mental health problem, while those affected by homelessness die, on average, around 30 years earlier than the general population.
The new initiative, formed of NHS-led teams will bring together doctors, nurses and other clinicians to co-ordinate treatment and support with other local organisations including councils.
In each area, outreach teams – comprising NHS and local authority staff – will identify rough sleepers in need of help, support them to access a GP and then on to the new expert psychiatric help.
At least 20 areas with high levels of rough sleeping will be expected to have set up new teams by 2023/24 as part of a wider national roll-out – backed by £30 million as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
“While the NHS cannot solve homelessness on its own, it is working hard to make sure rough sleepers have easy access to services that are built and designed around their needs – putting an end to the revolving door of trauma care,” commented Claire Murdoch, NHS national director for mental health.
She continued, “Many rough sleepers have been through incredibly traumatic experiences which can cause mental ill health or exacerbate problems – often impacting on the type of support they need and this is about stopping people slipping through the net.”
The first wave of funding is worth almost £12 million over the next five years and will be used to build and scale up comprehensive services across Birmingham, Brighton, Hull, Luton and more.