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It's a HHHIT!

February 01 2022

Meet the team helping homeless people in Haringey, London connect with GPs and improve the healthcare available to them. By Dr Seema Pattni and members of the Homeless Health Inclusion team

The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised how important it is for healthcare to be more accessible for people experiencing homelessness. The Haringey GP Federation in North London has been working hard with health and social care organisations to help improve healthcare for people experiencing homelessness in Haringey.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Seema Pattni, a GP working at the Federation, set up the Haringey Homeless Health Inclusion Primary Care Team to support people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping, many of whom were being emergency housed in hotels, hostels and accommodation sites by local councils. The Haringey Homeless Health Inclusion Team (HHHIT) now consists of two GPs, a paramedic and a care navigator, and two operational managers.

Since the start of the pandemic the team has helped many people register with and access their GP for appointments. Many people experiencing homelessness are not registered with a GP practice, or don’t know the many benefits that being registered brings to their health and wellbeing. 



Outreach

The HHHIT makes regular outreach visits, across the whole of Haringey, three times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. They visit emergency accommodation sites and the streets. They help with attending to people’s health concerns and offer a full health and wellbeing review. The care navigator helps each person to access the healthcare they need, such as setting up follow-up appointments, arranging access to tests and scans, helping to find relevant wellbeing activities. The team’s vision is to support people to become confident in accessing and benefiting from GP care independently. 

Friday clinic

HHHIT run a clinic for people experiencing homelessness every Friday. This is for people who have not been able to register with a GP or have not recently had any appointments with a GP. The clinic offers longer appointments with the GP and care navigator and helps people to address their healthcare and wellbeing needs.

Connecting with other agencies and professionals

The team works closely with mental health, substance and alcohol misuse, housing related support and street outreach workers so they are able to connect up care for people who might have other concerns and issues that they want to address, like mental health or drug use. The various teams meet regularly each week and often make joint visits to see people together and help them with their health and wellbeing.

Raising awareness with GPs

HHHIT also runs training events. Last year they hosted a webinar for GP receptionists on how to help people with no address or ID register at their practice. Another webinar was set up for doctors to learn more about common conditions that people who experience homelessness encounter. The team are developing more educational material about healthcare for staff and also for people experiencing homelessness.

Feedback from our service users

Support staff working with service users have commented that the “HHHIT significantly improved the access to primary care and holistic health assessments and healthcare for vulnerable and homeless people in Haringey”. Feedback from people who accessed help via the HHHIT outreach service has been positive, especially regarding the support, referrals and physical check-ups. Service users commented that "they (HHHIT) put me at ease, give me confidence” and “they are a friendly and helpful service”. HHHIT is grateful for positive feedback and is committed to working hard and continuing to improve the health and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness in Haringey. Thank you to all those who have used the service.

  • If you are in Haringey and would like to get help from the team or learn more about their services, ask about Haringey Homeless Health Inclusion Team at Mulberry Junction Day Centre, 332 High Rd, London N15 4BN or speak to one of the Thames Outreach workers

  • The Haringey Homeless Health Inclusion Team (HHHIT) now consists of two GPs (Dr Seema Pattni, Dr Bea Foster), a paramedic (Richard Pepper), a care navigator (Nigel Syms) and two operational managers (Mark Banks and Giac Harper).
    For more information on the Haringey GP Federation in general, please visit: www.haringeygpfederation.co.uk

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