The grant of £345,529 from the Department of Health and Social Care was awarded following a successful application to Public Health England (PHE) by a partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in West Sussex, the County Council and District and Boroughs.
The money is part of the £1.9 million which has been allocated by PHE to be used on projects that will improve access to health services for people with mental ill health and substance misuse problems who are currently, or at risk of returning to, sleeping rough. In West Sussex there will be a particular focus to support people away from local hospital’s A&E departments and instead accessing more appropriate and suitable healthcare services.
People who experience rough sleeping have much poorer health than the general population. In 2018 there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales, an increase of 22% since 2017, driven largely by a significant increase in the number of deaths related to drug poisoning.
The initiative will be co-ordinated by Stonepillow, one of the county’s homelessness services, on behalf of a number of homelessness support organisations. The project will start next February and run for 12 months.
The funding will help to improve the links between hospitals and homeless services and reduce the number of hospital admissions of homeless people in West Sussex. The Hospital Admissions Referral Pathway (HARP) model will provide a nurse and outreach worker, who will be located across various homelessness services, to ensure that rough sleepers do not fall through the primary healthcare net.
Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “This grant will help transform the lives of some of our county’s most vulnerable residents. Improving access to professional services is vital for those who can easily miss out on the support and treatment they need to help them off the streets and build a positive future.
"At a time when funding from central government is being cut, successful applications for grants like this offer vital money for our frontline services.”
Hilary Bartle, Chief Executive of Stonepillow added: “We are committed to addressing the health inequalities faced by rough sleepers. The successful outcome of the PHE rough sleeping bid that we submitted in partnership with other agencies across West Sussex, will enable us to strengthen our response to this critical area of work.
"The complexity of health care provision can present challenges for our clients which excludes them from receiving the help they require in a timely and appropriate manner. This results in them resorting to emergency services in order to address their basic health needs with often inadequate follow-up plans.
"This demonstrates excellent partnership working across statutory and voluntary sectors, providing an improved response to the health and homelessness needs of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”
Learning from this project will help to inform national policy and local commissioning of health and support services.