HC Deb 25 February 1987 vol 111 cc317-8W
Mr. Irving

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that regional health authorities are made accountable for the planning of health care services for homeless people;

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department co-ordinates and plans health services for single homeless people;

(3) what steps the Government are taking to give attention to the health needs of homeless women;

(4) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that district health authorities, local authorities, social services and family practitioner committees through joint planning will work with voluntary agencies to develop appropriate admission, discharge and aftercare policies to ensure that (a) a homeless person will only be discharged after adequate provision has been made for convalescence and after-care, (b) a homeless person without a general practitioner will be assigned one and given appropriate information and (c) priority will be given to assessing the housing needs of this person;

(5) what steps the Government are taking to make it mandatory for family practitioners' committees to provide primary health care for all sections of the community and to ensure that single homeless people are on registers permanently with general practitioners.

Mrs. Currie

District health authorities are responsible under the Health Services Acts for planning and providing hospital and community health services for their local populations, including homeless people, and are accountable to regional health authorities for doing so. They are required to collaborate with local authorities, the family practitioner service, and voluntary organisations. The Department does not issue guidance centrally to health and local authorities on services specifically for the single homeless. Authorities are expected to plan according to their local needs and circumstances.

Family practitioner committees are responsible for providing primary health care for everyone within their area, and single homeless people are entitled to use the statutory services in the same way as everyone else. However, FPCs are asked to give special attention to those who have difficulties in obtaining general medical services. In addition, the Department is currently supporting research projects which are looking at ways of providing primary health care for vulnerable groups, and also funds a number of voluntary organisations which provide services for single homeless people. The assessment of housing needs is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. If my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind, I would be grateful if he could write to me about them.

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