Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Healthcare for all, YEAH RIGHT!

How you feeling today? Good I hope, if not then you might want to see your doctor. For most of you the visit to a doctor isn’t very pleasant, but at least it’s tolerable. You have possibly been seeing the same one for many years and your family have been seeing him/her for even longer. Your children have all grown up knowing the rounded face peering down at them in times of pain. They slowly realise that the pushing and prodding is going to help them in the end. Then, as parents themselves, can share a joke with the ‘quack’ as take their own screaming infant into the surgery.

That’s all be about to change for some of the people of Watford, Hertfordshire because of a decision by the local PCT (primary Care Trust) that’s the government body who hold the purse strings to you and me, to close down a specialist practice assisting homeless people in the area.

Let me enlighten you further. In 2003, after multi-agency consultation it was agreed that a specialist medical practice was needed to cater for the needs of homeless people in the Watford area. Local doctors and care professionals agreed that the needs of the homeless were not being met by the service available at the time.

The Meadowell Centre was born.

Everything was ticking along quite nicely until last year. Firstly they suspend without giving adequate reasons the GP1, (GP1= General Practitioner (1)) then they create a forum to discuss the possible closure of this centre.

During this process they claimed that this specialist practice, which caters for the health needs 300 homeless people, is financially unviable. They also stated that that the needs of this group can and will be met by general practices. They said this despite the fact the doctors in these practices say they do not have the necessary resources to cope with the multitude of problems that a homeless person will present with.

A two day event in November came to the conclusion that there is still a need for this service and that rather than close it down other avenues would be explored to ensure its survival.

Now some 6 months later the PCT claim that the service is no longer needed. They claim the prescribing of opiate substitutes could be met by the community drug and alcohol team (CDAT) CDAT have not been consulted by the PCT regarding the closure of this project and whether they will be able to cope, nor have the patients at the Meadowell Centre, or the doctors and patients at the surgeries expected to take up the slack.

They also state that the needs of mentally ill patients can be met elsewhere even though the 40 plus patients with mental health problems make up quite a chunk of the numbers being treated by the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team).

In addition they are ignoring the difficulties faced by homeless people when it comes to registering with doctors.

So it would appear that this all boils down to money.

Its very easy maths, homeless addicts need treatment, no treatment equals more street drugs. More street drugs equals more medium to high crime to fund street drugs. More police, more victims all leading to more and more cost.


The PCT are saying that the general public do not need to be asked whether they feel that they would be willing to share their doctors with people with such high needs. They are not being asked whether they feel that it is appropriate to take their own children to the doctors where someone who may be drunk, high on drugs or experiencing mental illness is in the waiting room. They are not being asked whether they could cope with sharing their doctors with this client group, or being informed about the difficulties that will arise when a homeless client presents at the surgery.

The local A&E has not been consulted in regards to the fact that if a homeless person visits the department what they will do or how they will cope.

The PCT have taken it upon themselves to go for a cost cutting exercise that will have a major impact on the health care provision in the local area.

This project was opened in 2003 following the consultation and again in November 2005 it was agreed that there was still a need for this project, what has changed in 6 months?

Homeless people, like everyone else have a right to health care. Health care that meets their needs. Face it, would you go to a general practice for a broken bone, NO you wouldn’t, you would go to a doctor who specialises in this field. So why are homeless people who have special needs expected to go to a surgery that cannot cater for the problems they have.

The fact is that this surgery offers health care to those in need, but also enables this care to be provided without causing difficulties to mainstream practices. If this project is to close the catastrophic knock on effect will impact on everyone.

Its time that the PCT accept that they have a duty of care to all patients and realise that the decisions they make have an impact on everyone. THEREFORE its time they listened and stopped acting with complete disregard for the people that are responsible for.

Stan B
alias thepitseapirate

ps. I was homeless in Watford when I was released from the section (read my other blogs) I still needed health care. The Meadowell was the only practice that would register me! Most just said no room at the inn, the others pointed me to the Meadowell centre. I can stand up on my own most of the times now because I engaged. I got the health care I deserved and needed.


Times may have changed but there is still very little room at the inn for the homeless.

Thank GOD for the Meadowell


Post a Comment

<< Home