· Homelessness and Inclusion Health charity Pathway hosts its Annual Conference with a call on Government and NHS leaders to protect funding for specialist homeless health services as rising rates of homelessness further increase pressures on the NHS.

  • The conference opens as recent data shows a 26% rise in rough sleeping, with the Government set to miss its own target to end it for good by 2024.
  • Key speakers include Dr Shubulade (Lade) Smith CBE, President Elect of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England, and Matt Downie MBE, CEO of Crisis.

View full details of the conference programme.

Pathway, the UK’s leading homelessness and Inclusion Health charity, will host the 12th International Conference of the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, taking place on 15 and 16 March in London, with additional options to attend online or at regional hubs in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

The conference follows recent data which shows that rough sleeping has risen by 26% across England, with the Westminster Government now all but confirmed to miss its commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024.

With severe threats to the funding of vital services, the link between homelessness and poor health is more apparent and urgent than ever, warns Pathway. Figures show that people who are homeless have death rates ten times higher than people who are securely housed. The longer people are stuck in homelessness the more extreme are the health consequences and greater the cost to the NHS. Analysis by Crisis, the national homelessness charity, shows that the cost of leaving a person homeless is £10,000 more per year than if the same person had a home of their own.

The lack of a stable home also has heartbreaking consequences when it comes to people’s wellbeing and life expectancy. The most recent ONS statistics revealed that the average age of death in 2021 for people identified as homeless was just 45 for men and 43 for women, highlighting the urgent need for Government action to tackle homelessness in all its forms for good.

Pathway’s two-day symposium will see an international gathering of healthcare professionals, academics and NHS leaders to discuss the role that healthcare can play in helping people with the most complex needs, and to share best practice and examples of how joined-up service can help improve health outcomes. With the most recent NHS reforms establishing Integrated Care Systems, Pathway’s focus will be on how more integrated care should help the most vulnerable people in our society.

Key speakers at the conference include Dr Shubulade (Lade) Smith CBE, President Elect of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England, and Matt Downie MBE, CEO of Crisis. There will also be a selection of specialist mobile vehicle-based services from around the country, who take health care out of buildings and onto the streets to better reach people who need help and support. These include the HealthBus Trust, Dogs on the Streets, and Dentaid.

The workshop programme will include presentations on aspects of clinical practice and research, sessions for frontline staff on maintaining wellbeing in an overloaded system, as well as sessions looking at the need to tackle stigma, discrimination and other barriers to accessing care.

Alex Bax, CEO of Pathway, said:

With no end in sight to the cost-of-living crisis, Pathway’s frontline hospital teams are seeing rising numbers of new patients experiencing homelessness presenting with increasingly complex needs.”

We cannot afford to let this vulnerable group down. Along with funding to protect specialist services , we need mainstream health, housing and social care to work together to respond to this health emergency. The new Integrated Care Systems represent a real opportunity for the NHS and local government to work together to achieve this.”

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said:

Health and homes are deeply intertwined, and often inseparable. When one is good it naturally benefits the other. But we know that poor health can be both a cause and a consequence of homelessness.”

Without the protection and foundation of a stable home, your health – both physical and mental – is left to suffer. Day in, day out we see the barriers to accessing healthcare that arise when you lose your home or have to sleep on the streets.”

With many services close to breaking point and the housing and cost of living crises doing untold damage to people’s wellbeing, this conference from Pathway is more important than ever in bringing together the key voices in health and homelessness.”

Notes to editors

For more information, contact Jonathan Lucas, Pathway Communications Officer, at jonathan.lucas@pathway.org.uk

For free press passes, contact Neil Stewart Associates at karen.stewart@neilstewartassociates.co.uk

Inclusion Health is a service, research, and policy agenda that aims to address health inequities among the most vulnerable and excluded populations.

Pathway is the UK’s leading Homelessness and Inclusion Health charity. We work with the NHS and other partners to create improved models of care for people experiencing homelessness and excluded groups. In the last 3 years, the Pathway Partnership Programme has helped 10 NHS Trusts in England to create in-reach Pathway teams of doctors, nurses, social care professionals and peer supporters who support over 4000 homeless patients every year, across 13 different sites.

Founded in 2009, Pathway works to improve the quality of healthcare people experiencing homelessness and excluded groups receive by:

· developing and sharing best models of care like our hospital teams;

· increasing specialist skills of workers in healthcare;

· influencing policy; and

· reducing stigma in healthcare against people experiencing multiple exclusion.

For more information, email info@pathway.org.uk

The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health is an inclusive membership organisation for people involved in healthcare for excluded groups. Membership is open to nurses, doctors, allied medical professionals, social workers, public health experts, health advocates and support workers, commissioners, researchers and people with a lived experience of exclusion. Our aim is to improve the quality of healthcare for people experiencing homelessness and other excluded groups. The Faculty is hosted by Pathway.

For more information, email faculty@pathway.org.uk