Homelessness and Barriers to Primary Healthcare

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Nottingham and Nottinghamshire undertook research into homeless people’s experience of primary care to build on their existing insight on this subject.  They spoke to 29 service users and 1 service provider across the county.

All people said they were registered with a GP. Some people had difficulties registering but these were overcome with support. The registration rate with respect to dentists was much lower at 44%, but it is not necessary to register to receive treatment at NHS dentists.

Whilst all the people who responded had seen a doctor in the last year, seven people had not seen a dentist in the last two years. We found similar barriers to accessing healthcare at doctors and dentists. The most common barrier to seeing a GP was anxiety and/or depression followed by feeling judged or stereotyped by healthcare practitioners, and fear of diagnosis . These were also the three most common responses with respect to the dentist.

There was a mix of experiences. Some experiences may be unique to homeless people or more likely to affect them. People felt judged or stereotyped by healthcare practitioners as a barrier in accessing their doctor or dentist. Several people told us that they did not feel listened to, and only about two-thirds agreed that they feel listened to at the GP. Further, of particular importance is that only a third agreed that they have enough time to discuss their health with their doctor, particularly mental health.

There were no recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
Homelessness and Barriers to Primary Healthcare
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Nottingham City
Healthwatch Nottinghamshire
Date of publication 
Thursday, 3 December, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Quality of care
Staff attitudes
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
Engagement Event
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 
Dentist (non-hospital)
GP practice

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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
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? 
Not applicable
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.