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Health Rates In The Homeless Population

People who are homeless have little or no access to healthcare. If someone is homeless their health is at risk not only because they do not have access to immunisation to illnesses such as flu or shingles, but they do not have access to screening that the general population has for diseases such as cancer or heart problems. They could be suffering from undetected illness such as diabetes with no lifesaving medication.

In the UK a homeless would need to be registered with a doctor in order to get an appointment with a doctor or a nurse. To enable them to register with a doctor, they would need to have an address! And this is where the problem lies. A homeless person would however have access to a hospital if they were injured and needed treatment in an accident and emergency department.

In the USA there are some doctors that may work pro bono and provide healthcare for the homeless, but if the patient needed an extensive stay in hospital or extensive treatment then there may be a problem with that provision.

In both countries there exists charities and volunteer workers that may provide some healthcare. If a homeless person is lucky enough to get an overnight stay in a hostel there may be staff there that can help with arranging healthcare for the most immediate problems. But one of the issues then is follow up treatment or appointments. Because of the nature of being homeless the person may not be able or willing to attend any follow up.

One of the most worrying issues is that the number of homeless are continually rising. This is due to the effects of the downward fall in the economy, people have lost their jobs, homes and self-esteem. Any funding that may have come from the government being sharply cut to a minimum. In today’s homeless society, it is not just about single people, there are homeless families that need healthcare and support, especially the children that have little resilience to many of the illness that they would not normally come into contact with if they were not homeless.

We also need to think beyond physical health. Many people who have become homeless may also be suffering from mental illness. Statistics show that if these people could access appropriate healthcare then they may recover and gain their self-respect and confidence in order to once again be employed and afford a home.

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