Local GP given an Honourary Fellow at the Faculty for Homelessness and Inclusion Health

Dr Haroon Siddique pictured with his HSJ Awards certificateLocal NHS GP Dr Haroon Siddique, who works within the Southend West Central Primary Care Network has been made an Honorary Fellow at the Faculty for Homelessness and Inclusion Health for his initiative ‘Southend integrated care for Homeless’ to support some of Southend’s most vulnerable residents, spearheaded by a group of GP practices in Southend. The initiative was also a Finalist in the ‘Primary Care Innovation of the Year’ category at the national Health Service Journal Awards in 2021.

The Faculty is an inclusive membership organisation for people involved in health care for excluded groups, for example, homeless people, Gypsies and Travellers, vulnerable migrants, and sex workers.

Membership is open to all health professionals, social care professionals, housing and hostel workers, social workers, public health experts, support workers, outreach providers, commissioners, researchers, and people with lived experience of exclusion.

The aim is to improve the quality of health care for homeless people and other excluded groups by setting standards and supporting services in which generosity, kindness, and compassion combine with a passionate commitment to professional quality to become the defining characteristics of health services for homeless and multiply disadvantaged people.

The homeless initiative in Southend provided better joined-up care for those affected by homelessness in Southend in what has been an exceptional and challenging period across the sector.

Dr Haroon Siddique led the development of the initiative supported by Edel Spruce, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, to better support the health and care needs of some of Southend’s most vulnerable people.

Since the initiative launched in January last year, homeless people have been supported with a variety of medical problems, including a new diagnosis of liver cancer. A number of COVID-19 vaccinations have been given and has led to facilitated access to wider services. This means multiple homeless people have had health interventions which they normally wouldn’t have had access to reducing health inequalities in Southend locality.

Dr Haroon Siddique, Southend GP lead from Southend West Central Primary Care Network, said: “I am thrilled to be made a Fellow and that the valuable work of the initiative has been recognised but even more thrilled at the work we have been able to do with some of society’s most excluded to level up health inequalities. It demonstrates how partnership working can make a real difference where it matters most. I’d also like to thank the local NHS, Southend Homeless charity HARP, and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council for helping to make this happen.”

Partners from the NHS, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, food banks, soup kitchens, hostels, outreach teams, hospital, mental health and substance misuse providers have all collaborated to build this new integrated service. The initiative has already seen positive outcomes by maximising opportunities to deliver preventative health initiatives, such as Hepatitis C, respiratory, blood pressure and COVID-19 testing. Word-of-mouth from clients has consequently attracted others who were unsure or previously hesitant in accessing healthcare services. This in turn has helped to reduce avoidable use of crisis services while ultimately reducing premature deaths. 

The initiative has resulted in a 9% average drop in admissions to hospital and based on the cost of ambulance attendance and an average 5.4 day stay in and cute hospital delivered a saving of around £75K per month of precious NHS funds.

In addition, 173 COVID-19 vaccinations given to the most socially excluded in our society has prevented further spread of the virus and avoided further unnecessary hospitalisations.

Tricia D’Orsi, south east Essex Alliance Director, said: “This recognition really does reflect the collaborative efforts and dedication of Dr Siddique and our colleagues who have worked so hard to successfully deliver the ‘Southend Integrated Healthcare for Homeless’ initiative. The approach is truly collaborative, building relationships between physical and mental health, primary and specialist care and health and social care supporting national ambitions outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

“This initiative is part of wider plans across mid and south Essex that will see health and care partners working together to better support those at risk of ill health, improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities through more personalised care”.