On 24 June 2019, the Pathway Homeless Team based at the Royal London Hospital heard that they are the Regional Winner in The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award category, one of ten NHS Parliamentary Awards.
The Pathway Homeless team is part of the Health E1 Homeless Medical Centre in Brick Lane, Aldgate. The practice registers rough sleepers and people in temporary or insecure housing in Tower Hamlets.
The Pathway Team are based at the Royal London Hospital and has the ultimate aim of ensuring homeless people presenting in A&E do not get discharged back to the street, but instead are found other options for housing, healthcare and ongoing support in the community. When an individual admitted to hospital and ready to leave, the team will work to arrange a smooth discharge to a safe place.
Dr Peter Buchman who leads the team is delighted with the award. He said,
“All our team are thrilled to have won the regional award and to be shortlisted for the national award. Personally, I am delighted to have acknowledged the importance of empowering and supporting the most vulnerable in our society. It recognises that homelessness is not simply lack of a roof but a health problem and needs to be recognised as such if we are to improve the well-being and quality of life of these people. It is also terrific that the hard work of our small team has been recognised and celebrated in this way.”
People who are homeless often have a complex mix of physical health problems, mental health problems and addiction problems. The team work to improve the healthcare of homeless people in hospital by working closely with colleagues both inside and outside the hospital to improve communication between professionals and to advocate for this vulnerable group.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, who represents Poplar and Limehouse, nominated the team. He said, "I am absolutely delighted that the Pathway Homeless Team are the regional winners in the Parliamentary Awards. This is well-deserved and a great example of joint working between ELFT, Barts Health and the Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group to truly support homeless people who are among the most vulnerable in Tower Hamlets. Congratulations to everyone involved."
The Parliamentary Awards were launched in March. MPs from across the country were asked to nominate individuals or teams they thought have made the biggest improvements to health services in their constituencies, across ten categories.
The Pathway Homeless Team will now vie with other regional champions for an overall national award which will be presented at a special ceremony in the Palace of Westminster in July.
The NHS Parliamentary Awards
The NHS Parliamentary Awards, supported by sponsorship from FUJI Film and the Premier League, recognises the massive contributions made by those who work in and alongside the NHS.
From more than 600 entries submitted by almost half of all MPs in England, senior NHS experts have chosen seventy outstanding nominations, which exemplify the best of what the NHS and its partners do day in, day out.
Health E1 Homeless Medical Centre is based in Aldgate and provides a range of services to homeless people including general primary care, wound care, help with alcohol and addiction services, sexual health care and contraception, vaccinations, and management of physical health conditions. They aim to provide equitable health service access to homeless people without judgement and to engender trust.
Pathway Homeless Team
The team have forged close working relationships between primary and secondary care, hospital colleagues, local authorities (housing and social care) and the voluntary sector (hostels, outreach teams and day centres).
The team consists of a GP, a specialist nurse, an occupational therapist, a senior care navigator (with lived experience of homelessness), a social worker and an administrator.
Origins of the team
The team started in 2010 as part of a randomised control trial to study the efficacy of the Pathway model. The trial showed a clear reduction in discharge to rough sleeping and quality of life in homeless patients admitted to hospital who had the Pathway Homeless Team involved compared to those who did not. Dr Peter Buchman set up the team.
Nine years later, the same agencies are still attending a weekly multiagency meeting to manage and support homeless people. Additionally, the service has established a 6 bedded step-down accommodation (Gloria House) with support workers for patients who may be medically fit for hospital discharge but who require further work around housing, benefits and life skills. This is short term accommodation until a safe housing option can be found.
Dr Peter Buchman is a GP at Health E1 and the Clinical Lead Pathway Homeless Team at th