Accessing Healthcare in Sandwell: Homelessness Project Report 2020

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Sandwell undertook research into access to healthcare services for people who are homeless as this was a local priority.  They got 129 responses to their survey and spoke to a further 8 people in depth about their experience. 

There were mixed views about accessing primary care services, in particular GPs. However, the main issue raised related to lack of necessary ID or proof of address to register with a GP. Also, people were not aware of their rights when it comes to registering with their local GP.

A number of respondents reported experiencing some and significant access issues to mental health services.  Issues raised through the feedback were waiting times for appointments, judgemental attitudes from staff, lack of patient knowledge regarding registration process with different primary care services and getting timely and appropriate community-based support for mental health service issues when homeless.

The main reasons that homeless people have attended urgent or emergency care are lack of access to GP services, repeat attendances and admissions for the same health problem and a lack of access and continuing care to mental health service services in the community.

There were 7 recommendations, including publicising the rights of homeless people to access health care, the need for staff training, reviewing access to mental health services for homeless people and a hospital discharge protocol for homeless people.

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General details

Report title 
Accessing Healthcare in Sandwell: Homelessness Project Report 2020
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Sandwell
Date of publication 
Thursday, 18 June, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 January, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 31 March, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Health inequalities
Information providing
Quality of care
Staff attitudes
Staff training
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
User stories
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Urgent and emergency care services 
Accident & emergency

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Homeless people
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.