Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

June – July 2024 : Reflections READ ONLINE


Swine flu preparations made

September 26 2009
DoH urges rough sleepers to take extra precautions. The Department of Health is urging outreach workers and rough sleepers themselves to take extra precautions against swine flu this coming autumn. "It is crucial that service providers remain calm and communicate with their partners in health and homelessness,‚Äö?Ñ?? a spokesperson for the umbrella organisation Homeless Link explained. One of the most troublesome areas is treatment. In order to access antiviral treatment, such as Tamiflu, through the National Pandemic Flu Service people will have to have a 'flu friend' who can collect their drugs, along with a recognized form of ID. A range of ID is accepted, including utility bills, passports, credit cards or a driving licence. A standard acknowledgement letter issued by the Home Office, can be used for asylum seekers. If someone had no suitable identification they would need to contact a GP. Most hostels have implemented some form of policy for specifically dealing with swine flu, which has been linked to the deaths of 61 people in the UK at the time of going to press. King George's Hostel, London, which deals specifically with substance abusers more prone to respiratory illnesses, has stockpiled antiseptic hand-gel, aprons and masks for staff, as well as ensuring a supply of Tamiflu from a GP. But support manager Stephen Davis said he was still concerned, and was pushing the Department of Health to ensure rough sleepers and hostel residents are some of the first to receive the vaccine when it appears in late October. Mick Clarke, of The Passage in Westminster, said the team had been planning for a pandemic for more than two years, but his clients had specific problems, which would make following government advice difficult. "Rough sleepers will not be able to follow the advice most of the population are given if they have swine flu,‚Äö?Ñ?? he said. Generic advice includes staying at home, keeping warm and getting plenty of rest. "Many accommodation providers, including The Passage, would have no problem taking someone with swine flu into a hostel, but this had to be balanced with a duty of care to our other residents, many whom do have underlying health issues,‚Äö?Ñ?? Mr Clarke added. When the street team found a rough sleeper with swine flu symptoms, they were taken to a GP, where the team obtained Tamiflu on their behalf. Following this, accommodation that the workers could easily visit was obtained. But this will not always be possible, particularly if the pandemic spreads. Mr Clarke is lobbying for a new accommodation service commissioned and funded by the government to provide a place where rough sleepers who have swine flu will be able to rest, access medical services and get better.