Response to Guardian Article: ‘Homeless people make us miss NHS targets’

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

A collaboration of dentists, dental organisations and homelessness charities (including Pathway, Groundswell, Streets Kitchen, Den-Tech and Dentaid) have published a response to an article in the Guardian in which people experiencing homelessness were described by Mick Armstrong, who chairs the British Dental Association as “no hopers” in the context of the current NHS contract.

The letter is a reassurance to both the public and people experiencing homelessness that despite frustrations about the current dental contract there is hope and that good work is taking place across the country through a range of innovative initiatives to provide accessible care for vulnerable people.

In a recent article published in the Guardian, the head of the British Dental Association referred to people experiencing homelessness as “no hopers” in the context of current dental commissioning. We—a coalition of members of the dental profession, dental charities and homelessness outreach organisations—strongly reject the message that this article is sending to vulnerable individuals and the wider public.

The chaotic and dangerous nature of homelessness can make it difficult for individuals to be at a certain place at a certain time. This is not a failing to be condemned, but a challenge to be met: it is our professional responsibility to make services more easily accessible to the growing number of vulnerable people in our society.

Commissioning models need to be sufficiently flexible to embrace innovative approaches to providing high quality care to those most at need. Good examples include Community Dental Services who provide dental care for homeless people at multiple locations across the country.Based in Plymouth, Peninsula Dental School offers free dental care at four locations, and supports dental students to provide outreach advice at local homeless shelters. Den-Tech provides same-day denture services for people experiencing homelessness. In Manchester, Revive Dental Care offers drop-in dental clinics for vulnerable people. Dentaid holds free monthly clinics in Southampton and their ‘mobile dental unit’ visits night shelters and soup kitchens around the country.

In November, these and many others will meet in Birmingham for the ‘Homeless and Inclusion Oral Health’ conference, organised by The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, hosted by Pathway. The commitment of these groups is beyond doubt, but their tireless efforts should not give space to government to ignore its responsibility to commission adequate healthcare services.

Instead, we should marry lessons learned in these contexts to resources available within the NHS, and push for greater inclusion at all levels: policy, commissioning, education, training, service design, and inter-professional collaboration.

Until then, we will continue to share experience and resources, establish new partnerships, and innovate in delivering services to members of our society whose requirements are not easily met by existing structures. We believe strongly that there is hope.

If you would like to contact us, please send your email to:
Click here for a full list of signatories.

Janine Doughty, University College London / Pathway Homeless Healthcare Charity / Crisis at Christmas Dental Service Deputy Service Organiser
Jon Glackin, Streets Kitchen
Matt Downie, Director of Policy and Social Affairs, Crisis
Professor Andrew Hayward, University College London / Pathway Homeless Healthcare Charity
Professor Ruth Freeman, University of Dundee
Vanessa Muirhead, Clinical Senior Lecturer, Barts and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Jack Monroe, Author
Martin Burrows, Groundswell
Al Story, UCLH Find and Treat Service Lead
Natalie Bradley, Community Dental Service
Ben Atkins, Revive Dental Care
Janine Brooks, Director of the Dental Coaching Academy
Stan Burridge, Pathway Experts by Experience Lead
Fiona Ellwood, Patron of Society for British Dental Nurses
Nicholas Ransford, Clinical Director of Birmingham Community Dental Service
Jill Harding, Dentaid
Laura Daly, DCT2 in dental public health
Professor Christophe Bedos , McGill University, Montreal
Frances O’Leary, DCT3 Paediatric dentistry
Pippasha Khan, Dental student, Kings College London
Andreas Johnson, Chair of Den-Tech Denture Charity
Professor Blanaid Daly, Professor in Special Care Dentistry, Trinity College Dublin
Renato Venturelli Garay, Research Assistant UCL
Sara Harford, Clinical Fellow
Nadia Khalique, Dental Hygienist / therapist
Holly Bretel, StR in Special Care Dentistry
Mehdi Yazdi, Principal dentist Crown Bank Dental practice
Jo Dick, Registrar in Special Care Dentistry
Deborah Manger, Deputy Medical Director & Specialist in Special Care Dentistry for NHFT
Zana Khan, GP in homeless and inclusion health
David Conway, Professor of Dental Public Health, University of Glasgow
Caoimhin MacGiolla Phadraig, Special Care Dentist, Dublin Dental University Hospital
Esther Stephenson, Dental Core Trainee in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Neil Martin, Specialist in Special Care Dentistry/DCT East Anglia Training Programme Advisor
Samina Nayani, StR Special Care Dentistry, Kings College Hospital
Alexander Holden, University of Sydney
Nahush Shah, Senior Registrar in Orthodontics / Service Lead for Crisis at Christmas
Dorothea Hackman, Euston Foodbank
David Croser, General Dental Practitioner
Rob Whitton, Peninsula Dental School
Martha Paisi, Peninsula Dental School
Serena Luchenski, NIHR/HEE Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Public Health Consultant
Mili Doshi, Consultant in Special Care Dentistry
Laura Gartshore, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry
Maryam Ahmadyar, Community Dental Officer
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke
Matthew Turtle, Museum of Homelessness
Art Hindocha, Senior Registrar in Orthodontics
Jessica Turtle, Chair of Trustees, Simon Community
Gabriel Galia, Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellow
Daniel Stone, Labour Councillor for Stroud Green, Haringey
Jackie Bird, Director of Joanna Project
Andrea Rodriguez, Senior Research Fellow – Homelessness (Advocacy and Policy) Smile4life Programme
Norma Smart, Specialist in Special Care Dentistry
Sam Joseph, Street Vet co-founder
Jade Statt, Street Vet co-founder
Melissa Scott, Service Lead, Homeless Health Service, Bournemouth
Rachel Cullen, Simon Community
Bhavik Patel, Integrated Clinical Fellow, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Brooke Zaidman, SpR in Special Care Denistry
Jenny Lawson and others, Nag’s Head Solidarity Centre Womens Group
Barbara Moeller
Trish Young
Theo Rogers
Rochelle Wallace-Whitfield,
Garima Arora, Research Assistant, University of Dundee
Paul Jackman, Still Human Outreach
Nikki Kenyon, Manchester: Life On The Streets
Louise McTernan, Outreach worker Manchester
Derek Richards, President British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry


Joint Statement on Inclusion Health

Leading health professionals have issued a joint statement on inclusion health calling for joined up thinking on homelessness, exclusion, inequality and health in the wake of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

The statement, from The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (the coordinating body for all 24 medical Royal Colleges and Faculties across the UK) and The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, recognises inclusion health as a discipline and commits all Royal Medical Colleges to redressing “extreme health and social inequities among the most vulnerable and marginalised”.

In light of the statement, The Faculty will be working with the Royal College of Physicians and other key partners to help clinicians understand their duties to refer patients for support under the new legislation. Dr Nigel Hewett, Secretary to the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health said:

“Faculty members come from across the NHS and beyond. They work together to get the best outcome for their patients. Every discipline in healthcare has a contribution to make to the care of our most vulnerable fellow citizens. The recognition of our shared responsibilities in this statement is a huge leap towards that goal.”

The Homelessness Reduction Act received Royal Assent on 27th of April. It’s provisions are expected to come into force in 2018.

Click here to download the joint statement (external website)

Health Heroes Against Homelessness

North-west professionals tackle homelessness & health

A group of passionate health professionals are meeting in Manchester next week to discuss the city’s worsening homelessness crisis.

The regional meeting of the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, will bring together doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, hostel workers and commissioners to look at new ways of providing support to people who are homeless who have mental health problems. Over 70% percent of people who are homeless have a physical or mental health problem. People who’ve lost their home are more likely to suffer depression, more likely to feel suicidal and are more likely to suffer from serious illnesses such as epilepsy, diabetes and emphysema.

Rachel Brennan, Manager of the Homeless Service at Urban Village Medical Practice who are hosting the meeting said:

“Every day we see patients who are struggling with homelessness and horrendous health problems. All of us need good healthcare, but it’s especially vital that patients who’ve fallen through the net can get the support they need to get back on their feet.”

Michael is a patient at the practice. He slept rough in Manchester on and off for 4 years, until his health deteriorated and he was hospitalised. With the support of the hospital homeless service, Mpath, Michael got into a hostel and got healthcare and drug treatment. As his health and stability increased, he leapt at the chance to move into his own home. He now manages his health conditions with a local GP practice. Michael said:

“Without help from Urban Village and other supporting staff I think I would have died on the streets. Through the practice I’ve completed Hepatitis C treatment, come off alcohol and drugs and got my own place. I can’t thank everyone enough for their help.”

Alex Bax, CEO of Pathway, who host the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health said:

“Good health services can change the lives of people who are homeless. The best services bring together health, housing and social care. Andy Burnham’s commitment to join up services across the city is an amazing opportunity for change.”


Pictures are available on request.



Cat Whitehouse, Communications Officer
020 3447 8780


Notes to Editors

  1. The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health Regional meeting will take place on 26 July 2017, 17:00 – 19:30 at Urban Village Medical Practice, Ancoats Primary Care Centre, Old Mill Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6EE.
  2. Inclusion health is a discipline focusing on the health needs of  people who are homeless, vulnerable migrants, gypsy and traveller communities and people who sell sex, groups that all struggle to access healthcare, but often have serious health problems.
  3. The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges has recently made a joint statement on inclusion health with The Faculty, committing all 24 of the UK and Ireland’s Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties to reducing inequality.


About The Faculty

The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health is a network of over 1000 professionals working in inclusion health – a discipline supporting

  • People who are homeless
  • People who sell sex
  • People from gypsy and traveller communities
  • Migrants who are vulnerable

Members include doctors, dentists nurses, social workers, public health experts, support workers, researchers, commissioners and people with lived experience of exclusion. Faculty membership is free, and offers research and updates on inclusion health issues, a network of regional meetings and training events and consultation around the National Service Standards for Homeless and Inclusion Health, endorsed by the Royal College of Physicians. The Faculty is hosted by Pathway, a charity helping the NHS to support homeless people.

National Homeless Health Symposium 2017

Early Bird Bookings Are Open!

Delegates at the 2016 Homeless Health SymposiumBooking is now open for the 5th International Symposium on Homeless and Inclusion Health. The event, taking place in London 1–2 March 2017, already has confirmed speakers from the CQC and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

Discounts are available for members of The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, NHS staff, Local Authorities and charities.

Save up to £75 when you book before the end of September.


Call for Papers

For the first time the event will include opportunities for health and social care practitioners to submit data and papers for presentation. Get in touch if you’d like to present your team’s work.  One recent delegate said:

“Great meeting of minds, incredible networking opportunities and so much learning done!”

Book your tickets today

See pictures from the 2016 event

See videos of the plenary sessions

Listen to podcasts of the seminars


The International Symposium on Homeless and Inclusion Health

Challenging Healthcare, Changing Lives

Richard Wilkinson speaks at the International Symposium on Homeless and Inclusion Health
Keynote speaker Richard Wilkinson

Two rainy days in London in March 2016 brought together 300 doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, experts by experience, support workers, commissioners and researchers, united by a single passion: helping vulnerable patients.

The event attracted speakers from all over the world, including:

  • Jane Dacre, President of the Royal College of Physicians
  • Dennis Culhane, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Professor Richard Wilkinson Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School.
  • Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity, President of the World Medical Association

Audiences in 5 locations across the UK and Ireland joined the debate through remote access. The programme included an impressive 16 unique workshops,  including the implications of novel psychoactive substances, work with gypsy and traveller communities, commissioning services and end of life care for homeless patients.

Our team of Experts by Experience co-chaired many of the sessions, offering unique insight from people who have lived through homelessness and exclusion. As one delegate said:

“Great meeting of minds, incredible networking opportunities and so much learning done!”

Early Bird Bookings 2017

Delegates at the 2016 International Symposium on Homeless and Inclusion Health

The 5th International Symposium on Homeless and Inclusion Health will take place on 1st – 2nd March 2017.  Early Bird bookings are open until the end of September!

For the first time this year’s event will include opportunities for health and social care practitioners to submit papers for presentation. Get in touch if you’d like to present your team’s work.

See pictures from the 2016 event

See videos of the plenary sessions

Listen to podcasts of the seminars


Faculty Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the London Faculty Meeting on 3 November are now available

Click here to download the minutes
Over 40 doctors, nurses, housing workers and social care professionals attended the meeting, with lively discussion of:

  • Barriers to medication dispensing and storage in hostels.
  • Experts By Experience involvement at our forthcoming International Symposium & Study Days.
  • CQC inspection regimes.
  • The latest development plans for the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health.

Whether you missed the meeting or just want an insight into what it’s all about, they’re well worth a read

Pathway Wins Homeless Healthcare Funding

New funding, from LankellyChase Foundation, will enable Pathway to provide a new level of support to doctors and nurses working with excluded people.

Staff often face complex issues when supporting people who are homeless, selling sex, or seeking asylum, who also have substance use issues or physical and mental health problems.

The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health is a cohort of 600 health and social care professionals and people who have overcome exclusion (Experts by Experience), who aims aim to support and educate staff in the field.

Membership of the Faculty is free and offers:

  • Networking and support
  • Continuing professional development opportunities
  • A copy of the national service standards for Homeless and Inclusion Health
  • Discounted tickets to the Homeless and Exclusion Health Conference

Find out more about joining the Faculty

Find out more about our work with excluded people