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Recent report highlights difficulties faced by homeless people in Neath, Bridgend and Swansea in accessing health care

Date published: 10/05/2018

Download Community Health Council report March 2018 (English language) here >>>
Download Community Health Council report March 2018 (Welsh language) here >>>

Speaking to 53 people who did not have stable accommodation, Abertawe Community Health Council found Front page of reportthat many shared similar stories.

Many had a number of complex needs including learning difficulties, autism, mental and physical illness and issues with substances.

People told the Community Health Council that this meant they had been passed between services and had not been able to get the support they needed. Some people felt that earlier intervention could have stopped them becoming homeless in the first place.

Without a stable address, access to even basic health care became a problem. Very few people had access to a dentist and severe dental problems were common. People were often unable to access emergency dental treatment due to the cost of traveling across the region and some had resorted to pulling their own teeth out to relieve the pain.

The Community Health Council found examples of some NHS services designed to support access. Outreach and specialist nursing services made a huge difference where they were available and some opticians went out of their way to meet the needs of people with complex needs.

The Community Health Council is calling on the health board to:

  • Ensure that services work better together so that people with a number of needs are not pushed around the system;
  • Consider how good practice in outreach and care coordination can be extended;
  • Improve dental services to ensure access for homeless and vulnerably housed people;
  • Share the good practice adopted by some opticians and encourage others to do the same.

Vice Chair ABM CHC Brian Moon said: “Too many people were left in vulnerable situations by a system that failed to work as a whole to address complex needs. Many more living with chronic pain were unable to access treatment early and had to rely on emergency care or take drastic steps such as removing their own teeth. This is an area where the health board needs to respond quickly to address the issues raised.”

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