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A study led by the University of Birmingham has painted a shaming picture of neglect and discrimination shown towards the homeless when accessing UK health services.
Researchers interviewed 22 homeless people aged over 18 at three Midland homeless shelters in order to gauge their experience of accessing NHS services following anecdotal reports that the homeless were being denied access and faced negative experiences.
Study - Participants - Barriers - Others - Accounts
While some of the study participants described facing no barriers, others shared accounts of casual neglect, discrimination, and inadequate resources across general practice, accident and emergency departments, and mental health services.
Some reported being denied registration at a GP, while others said they were discharged from hospital onto the streets with no access or referral to primary care providers, and others said they could not access services providing support to those with substance misuse issues and mental health problems.
Participant - Crimes - Prison - Access - Healthcare
One participant described resorting to committing crimes so that they would be sent to prison where they could then access healthcare.
Those that took part in the study expressed high satisfaction about their experiences at specialist primary healthcare centres for people who are homeless, however these are underfunded.
Journal - General - Practice - Shelter - I
The study—published in in the British Journal of General Practice - comes as, according to Shelter (i), there are over 320,000 homeless people in the UK and the number of rough sleepers in some urban areas has doubled in the last six years (ii).
Senior Lecturer Dr. Vibhu Paudyal, of the University of Birmingham's School of Pharmacy, said: "Stories of homeless people being denied access to mainstream GP services were so far anecdotal which our study sadly validates as the truth.
Stigma - Discrimination - Settings
"Perceived stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings seems to...
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