THE rise in hospital admissions of homeless people is down to the removal of a specialist GP service, according to a local councillor.

The Press reported earlier this month that the number of homeless people being admitted to York Hospital has increased by 38 per cent since 2013.

Councillor Michael Pavlovic says the jump follows the removal of a specialist GP service based at Monkgate, where the street homeless, those living in hostels and traveller families gained medical treatment and advice from professionals.

He said: “The Personal Medical Services clinic at Monkgate was highly regarded by service users. It enabled specialists to develop personal knowledge of each individual patient, and to gain their trust.

“Unfortunately that service was removed and now we are seeing part of its impact on acute hospital services. People strongly feel that a return to a readily accessible GP service would be hugely beneficial not just to patients, but to the health service, staff and to the Clinical Commissioning Group too. This is because as we know, intervening early with health problems saves money.

“We call on the CCG to proactively work together to give serious consideration to a return to this specialist support service.

“Revisiting the provision of specialist support for the street homeless and those living in homeless hostels would go a long way towards helping these people."

Dr Andrew Lee, executive director of primary care at the Vale of York CCG, said: “Ensuring that the healthcare needs of the homeless community in York are met is an important yet challenging task as their needs are often very complex. We are working with public and third sector partners to provide comprehensive support for these vulnerable people. Through our service specifications with York Medical Group we have ensured that GP appointments for homeless people are more flexible, after receiving feedback about regular appointments being a potential barrier.

“York Medical Group will register any person of no fixed abode who requires GP services, and also provide a clinic at Changing Lives at Union Terrace, which allows homeless people to receive healthcare outside of a normal surgery environment. Our ‘A Bed Ahead’ services also ensure that homeless people who present at A&E receive support through a homelessness link worker."

“In 2019 we also secured funding through the Better Care Fund for several seasonal walk-in vaccination clinics for flu, pneumonia and Hepatitis B which were publicised through voluntary services throughout the city. We will continue to work with our partners to meet the health needs of homeless people in York and mitigate the impact on acute healthcare services.”