At akt we know that accessing healthcare can be very stressful, especially when compounded with homelessness. In this resource we aim to give you the knowledge to access your right to healthcare as well as additional pointers on walk-in clinics, external resources and more.  

Firstly, if you are in a health emergency call 999 or get yourself to an A&E as soon as possible. If you believe the problem is serious but not an emergency, call the 111 non-emergency line and they will instruct you on the next steps.  

The Law 

First and foremost, your right to healthcare is outlined clearly within the law. You do not have to have a current address in order to access a GP – as long as you are within their practice area, and they are not at capacity, then you can register with them.  

A GP cannot deny healthcare because you are homeless, do not have proof of address or identification, or because of your immigration status and if they are unable to take you on as a patient in their area, they must explain this in writing.  

For more information and advice on how to register with a GP, please access our resource here. 

Free Health Services 

Homeless Link have an excellent search engine for finding services in England that may be relevant including a filter for finding health services, these can also be filtered by region, the support offered and more.  

Bristol & South Gloucestershire have the Homeless Health Service who are a team of healthcare workers and support staff who provide advice and treatment to those who are homeless, including those rough sleeping and those living in temporary accommodation. 

The Wild Goose, run by the organisation inHope, host a weekly medical ‘wet clinic’ for those who are dependant on alcohol, as well as hosting advisory sessions on topics from housing to healthcare. 

The Bristol Drug Project is a charity that provides harm reduction and treatment services to people experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol.  

Crisis, a homelessness and mental health charity, have Skylight Centres where you can get help with healthcare, accommodation and much more throughout the major cities of the UK (excluding NI). 

North East Homeless also have a healthcare search filter on their search directory showing the results for the NE including the Joseph Cowen Health Centre who offer primary health care for homeless people as well as needle exchange, de-infestation and much more.  

The Manchester Primary Care Partnership are a GP lead charity working out of over 88 surgeries in the Manchester area, who have a list of their surgeries and what they do to help homeless people. 

The Urban Village Medical Practice are a GP surgery in the Manchester area who are well known for their support of homeless people. On their website you can book an appointment or use their Self-Help page.  

New Horizon Youth Centre offer support and advice to young people aged 16 to 24 who are facing homelessness, and also offer health and wellbeing services. 

As part of the NHS they also run Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC), these are open at least 12 hours a day and can help with anything from sprains and strains to ear and throat infections. Anything that is not considered an emergency but that needs treatment such as a cut or burn. 

If you are accessing these walk-in centres, you do not need to bring anything with you although ID can be helpful. Many walk-in centres will also be willing to provide a letter for you to give your GP, as proof of a temporary residence.  

Further advice and support 

If you are in hospital – either in a&e, a walk-in centre or as an inpatient for physical or mental health reasons – and you are worried about being homeless once you are discharged, then you should speak to a professional as soon as you can. They have a duty to refer you to the council for an assessment. 

Read more about getting help from the council if you’re threatened with or experiencing homelessness. 

For more information please see the Shelter resource which offers practical advice if you are homeless and on the street.  

Groundswell, a homelessness charity who focus on the healthcare issues faced by homeless people, have an excellent resource to outline your healthcare rights. They have produced ‘My Right to Healthcare’ Cards which you can download or order through their website.  

Groundswell also offer an Advocacy service if you need support to attend and understand appointments, health services and information and much more. You can also contact them by phone on 020 7725 2851 or email at [email protected]