We teamed up with charities Groundswell and Good Gym to get more ‘My right to access healthcare’ cards into the hands of people who are homeless in London.
The plastic cards are designed to be carried by adults who are homeless across London, including people who sleep rough, live in hostels, sleep on family and friend’s sofas, or who are chronically insecurely housed.
Good Gym, a charity that aims to do good while getting fit, ran 6.5km for us and Groundswell, crisscrossing through central London from the Strand, to Blackfriars, across to Waterloo and back. They gave cards to people they met along the route who looked to be sleeping rough and explained how they can use the cards to register and get treatment at a GP surgery.
Rachel Kearney, Good Gym’s run leader on the day, said:
“Keeping in mind the vulnerability of the people involved, we decided we would run along the river to get our legs working before slowing it down and splitting off into groups to hand out the cards in a gentle and approachable manner. It was very worthwhile, with each person we approached being incredibly thankful for our reach out.”
Since December 2016, 40,000 cards have been delivered to shelters, day centres, food banks, drop in centres and other organisations across London.
Our aim with the cards is improve health by changing users and providers behaviour, starting by making it easier for people who are homeless in London’s to access primary healthcare services. The average age of death for people who sleep rough on the streets is almost half that of the general population. They often have complex co-morbidities, are much less likely to be registered with a GP and much more likely to use A&E services.
The cards are plastic and credit-card sized and can be used to remind GP receptionists and other practice staff of the national patient registration guidance from NHS England. It carries the message that people do not need a fixed address or identification to register or access treatment at GP practices – where necessary, the practice may use the practice’s address to register the patient if they wish.
Flyers have also been produced with bigger letters and format for people with eye sight problems. Anyone is welcome to download and use our templates to spread the word about accessing healthcare.
An online training course for GP receptionists and practice managers in London is also available. It covers the specific issues faced by patients who are homeless; best practice in supporting and treating them; and service access rights and engagement.
Our great thanks go to Good Gym and Groundswell for their enthusiasm and support.
More about Good Gym
Good Gym’s central London group run leaves on Tuesday evenings at 5.30pm from Kings College London Strand campus, but there are other group run all across London and further afield across the country. Visit Good Gym’s website to find out more
More about Groundswell
Groundswell is a registered charity, which exists to enable people experiencing homelessness to take more control of their lives, have a greater influence on services and have a full role in our community. Visit Groundswell’s website to find our more