Dr Lisa Cameron – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Dr Lisa Cameron on 2015-10-27.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the ability of homeless people to access addiction services; and if he will make a statement.

Jane Ellison

The ministerial working group on homelessness report ‘Addressing complex needs – improving services for vulnerable people’ (2015) highlighted significant levels of substance misuse among the homeless population. Homeless people often have multiple health needs, and the report showed how vulnerable people can become trapped in a cycle of homelessness because of their overlapping and complex problems.

Improving access to specialist substance misuse services for homeless people can also help to facilitate access to the help they need to find accommodation. This includes both in-house services and onward referral routes to external organisations, such as local authority housing services or other housing support services.

Public Health England (PHE) supports local authorities to help them understand better the needs of homeless people with addictions, in addition to working with key stakeholders such as the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health and membership organisation Homeless Link. PHE commissioned Homeless Link to carry out a rapid evidence assessment of homelessness prevention. PHE has also supported Homeless Link to update the Homeless Health Needs Audit toolkit, an important tool that can help areas understand the scale and nature of homelessness, the health inequalities experienced by single homeless people, and to monitor any changes in the health of this population. It is designed to be used by anyone with responsibility for carrying out needs assessments, designing and commissioning services, or delivering services within a health or homelessness setting.