With the benefit cuts and recession starting to show its effects on increasing levels of homelessness and people sleeping rough the health services needed to pull up its socks and respond to the challenge, a report by the providers of NHS services has said.
The NHS Confederation which represents all hospitals and providers treating the homeless has warned that those with no shelter often find trouble in registering with the GP and many suffer from mental health problems which the doctors refuse to treat unless they are clean.
About 70% of people who use homelessness services have mental health problems, and many self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
Steve Shrubb the confederation’s mental health network director has said that patients who are homeless are not treated under the range of NHS-funded services, if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even though they are in need of therapy they can’t be asked to go away and clean themselves.
Shrubb said according to the governments own estimates there were 2,200 people who were sleeping rough on any one night in England an increase of 23% on the previous year was too low which probably was in the case of London alone.
Shrubb pointed out that a study by the University of York revealed that the figures were only the tip of an iceberg with many more young people staying on friend’s floors. A small crisis would bring them on to the streets which gives an idea how big the problem lying before the authorities was, he said.
Charities backed the report and warned that the government's programme on mental health might be too narrow.