Who are we?
The HealthBus Trust is a charity that provides outreach, accessible and tailored healthcare to people experiencing homelessness in Bournemouth. Operating a mobile GP-led service, in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team, local authority and third-sector providers of homeless services, the HealthBus delivers care at the point of need to people sleeping rough and in emergency accommodation.
The HealthBus Trust’s mission is to provide accessible, high-quality, patient-centred healthcare for people experiencing homelessness to address health inequalities and reduce the pressure on the NHS and frontline services of ‘revolving door’ patients. The HealthBus Trust believes that every person has an equal right to effective and evidence-based healthcare in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
The HealthBus Trust model draws on components of the recovery model developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (Ellison, 2018). These include person-centred care, empowerment (agency), purpose and hope.
What do we provide?
The service we provide to people experiencing homelessness is a lifeline. The Trust offers GPs & Nursing appointments to those who are experiencing homelessness aged 18 years and above. The team can treat and assess the following issues:
- Basic Health Checks
- Wound care
- Blood tests including Hep C/Hep B/HIV testing/ Syphilis testing
- Help with Medical Appointments
- Advise and support with medication concerns
- Sexual health promotion, contraception advice and STI checks
In partnership with other local services and agencies, we refer patients for:
- Liver Team hepatitis assessments
- Drug & Alcohol support
- Mental health practitioner
- Optometrist, Podiatrist, and Dentist support
- Hair cuts & Street Vet assistance
Why is it needed?
In 2022, 1,095 people experiencing homelessness were recorded within the BCP conurbation, with 67 people sleeping on the streets on any given night and a further 1017 living in temporary accommodation plus an unknown number of ‘invisible’ homeless (i.e. sofa surfers). A significant number of patients seen have complex and profound medical and social issues. In addition, many patients are affected by alcohol and drug misuse. The Trust seeks to address the pressure on the NHS and frontline health services.
- The Homeless attend A&E six times more than average and when admitted stay three times longer.(NHS, 2017, Dorset Healthcare Needs)
- The life expectancy of a homeless person is 30 years less than that of the general population, equating to 47 years for men and 43 years for women. (NHS, 2011)
- 70% of single homeless people suffer from a personality disorder (more recently called complex trauma), versus about 4% in the general population (Mental health network 2019)
- 87% of those that are homeless have mental health problems – 52% of whom said they had used drugs, alcohol and ethanol to cope. (Norwich homeless health audit 2016)
- People who are homeless are nine times more likely to take their lives (Crisis, UK ‘Homelessness the silent killer’, 2017)
A recent patient stated: “After lots of encouragement from visiting health professionals I have found hope and compassion from those involved with the HealthBus. This service is a lifeline! A much-needed refuge for those who are vulnerable. The staff and team involved with the HealthBus have saved and are saving lives!”
How you can help!
The HealthBus is funded through donations and grants. If you would like to donate directly to the HealthBus or volunteer your time, you can find out more at www.healthbus.co.uk
The HealthBus outreach service reaches up to 200 homeless individuals annually.
The first mention of a YMCA in Bournemouth is in 1879 when it was housed in rented rooms above the J E Beale shop in Old Christchurch Road. It has served the population of Dorset for 140 years!
Get in touch
St Stephen’s Church
St Stephen’s Way