Being homeless at any time is hard, but living on the streets as the weather turns bitterly cold brings its own challenges.
Kind-hearted health care workers from Sherwood Forest Hospitals have been bringing their clinics to the streets, in a bid to help the homeless population.
Doctors, nurses and dentists from across Sutton in Ashfield and Mansfield spent Monday night (November 26) helping people who are living on the streets to be in better health before the cold weather really kicks in.
Homeless people visiting Bridge Street’s soup kitchen had wounds checked and re-dressed by a specialist nurse, spoke to a GP and practice nurse and got vaccinated against flu, had an oral check from a dental volunteer, got advice from a sexual health specialist and a dietician, and found
out more about free eye checks available through Ashfield Eyecare Services.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals’ Chief Nurse, Suzanne Banks, said: “We know how daunting it can be for people living on the streets to access GP
services or visit a hospital when they need care.
“Some of these people have skin wounds and injuries on their legs that get worse as they either cannot get to a hospital or GP practice, or are just too fearful to attend.
“That’s why we wanted to take health care out to these people in an environment that’s comfortable to them and give them the opportunity to meet us.
“We hope that this will encourage people living on the street to access the right health services in the future when they need it.”
Dr Milind Tadpatrikar from the Roundwood Surgery in Mansfield said: “When the weather turns cold, the consequences can be potentially life threatening for homeless people.
“Offering flu vaccinations and providing health assessments to this particularly vulnerable population is a valuable step towards protecting their health this winter.
“Then there are also the more complex problems that we cannot address at the street health event.
“That’s when we can help by supporting people to register with a GP or visit hospital when they need to.
“We also offer a weekly walk-in clinic for homeless people at the Beacon Centre on Wood Street in Mansfield.”
Common health problems amongst homeless people include leg ulcers with high risk of infection and gangrene, respiratory illness, malnourishment and dehydration, chronic diarrhoea from poor hygiene and limited food, and of course mental health problems. They are also at high risk of musculoskeletal symptoms from uncomfortable sleeping conditions.
As well as being able to get health checks and advice at the event, everyone who attended was given a drawstring bag full of essentials such as a hat, a scarf, a pair of gloves, and toiletries, which were all kindly donated by staff at Sherwood Forest Hospitals and packed by the Trust’s volunteers.
Sleeping bags and warm coats were also available to take away, as well as hot food.
This is the very first event of its kind in the area and more events are set to take
place in the new year.