HC Deb 24 February 2003 vol 400 cc364-5W
Mr. Marsden

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on how access to the health services of homeless people living in(a) hostels and (b) bed and breakfasts is being encouraged. [87437]

Ms Blears

National Health Service services are available free to anyone who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, including anyone who is homeless. Primary care trusts (PCTs) have a duty to ensure appropriate and timely access to healthcare for everyone in their area, including the homeless and those living in hostel accommodation.

In addition, the new requirement on local authorities to carry out a review of homelessness in their area and develop a homelessness strategy with local partners, such as the PCT, will help to identify gaps in services and ensure that there is appropriate mainstream and specialist health care for homeless people.

We have in place a range of initiatives to improve access to primary care services for homeless people. These include the development of a model general medical service local development scheme for PCTs and the promotion of locally agreed personal medical services (PMS) contracts with a similar focus. There are now nearly 90 PMS pilot schemes which include the homeless as a priority objective. In addition, we are generally trying to improve access to NHS services for all through a variety of different access routes, for example, through walk-in-centres, diagnosis and treatment centres and one-stop primary care centres.

Mr. Hepburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what support is offered to homeless people to help them register with general practitioners; and what duty general practitioners have to register homeless people; [96872]

(2) what action the Government have taken to alleviate the problem of homeless people not registered with general practitioners. [96873]

Mr. Hutton

National Health Service medical primary care services are available free to everyone who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, including anyone who is homeless. The Department is taking a range of actions to improve access for such people. These initiatives include developing targeted personal medical services pilot schemes, a model general medical services local development scheme, the provision of NHS walk-in centres and, most recently, reminding GPs, in the monthly GP newsletter for February 2003, that a patient does not need to have a permanent address to register for services.