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Health screening and vaccination for homeless people in Northants

Author: Liam Beasley Published: 8th October 2019 09:18
Health screening and vaccination will be available to homeless people across Northamptonshire again this year through a pioneering project which will provide free health screening drop-in sessions in locations around the County.Health screening and vaccination will be available to homeless people across Northamptonshire again this year through a pioneering project which will provide free health screening drop-in sessions in locations around the County.

Health screening and vaccination will be available to homeless people across Northamptonshire again this year through a pioneering project which will provide free health screening drop-in sessions in locations around the County.

Northamptonshire County Council’s Public Health team has worked with partners to provide a number of these sessions across the county during October 2019.

This screening programme is in response to research that shows that the health and wellbeing of people who experience homelessness is poorer than that of the general housed population. Recent statistics show homeless people in the UK have a much higher likelihood than the general population of having one of the following three diseases:
 
  • Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence is up to 34 times greater in homeless populations
  • Hepatitis C prevalence is up to 50 times greater in homeless populations
  • HIV prevalence is up to 20 times greater in homeless populations
 

The aim of these sessions is to help reduce health complications amongst our homeless population, reduce the risks of ill-health and premature death, and preventable emergency hospital admissions.

People attending the sessions will be screened for health risks that are more prevalent in people who are homeless, for example TB, Hepatitis and HIV.  In addition they will be offered immunisations for Hepatitis A & B, and vaccinations for flu. There will also be an opportunity for people to have a liver scan, and receive a general health check.

It is expected that the clinics will be able to see between 20 to 25 people at each of the health screening sessions. From our clinic sessions last year we anticipate there will be  a small number of people who will need treatment particularly for TB or Hepatitis C and for these people support will be provided to gain some form of stable accommodation to help ensure they complete treatment successfully.

 
This health intervention is provided through a  unique collaboration of partners across a variety of local and regional care partners; the Public Health Team at Northamptonshire County Council, Public Health England, regional and local NHS Health Trusts, CGL (the provider of local substance misuse services), all seven borough and district councils, Oxford Immunotec, and a wide variety of voluntary sector organisations including the Bridge in Northampton and Hope Centre in Northampton, Rushden Night Shelter, and the Salvation Army.

This innovative project will supplement existing services and target this vulnerable group of people who we know have greater health risks, and will be a means through which people can access services before they become acutely unwell.  

Cabinet Member for Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, Ian Morris, said:

“Many homeless people find it difficult to access healthcare or even register with a GP. The screening and vaccination sessions allow us to help individuals to access healthcare that they may otherwise miss out on and we also offer the opportunity for them to register with a GP.”

The screening and vaccination drop in sessions will be held around the county as follows: launching in Northampton on 8th October 2019 at The Bridge, 63c Gold Street, Northampton, NN1 1RA and the Hope Centre, Northampton, NN1 3DS on 9th October 2019 with other dates still to be confirmed.
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