Background: A homeless person is difficult to define, but includes all who are vulnerably housed. Being homeless has far-reaching social, psychological and health implications. The implications of homelessness on health is poorly researched especially in the United Kingdom.
Aim:To review services available to homeless people in Merseyside and to investigate the equity of access to primary care.
Methods: Literature review of OVID, Medline, Scopus, AMED, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochran Library, PsycINFO, ScienceDirect and Web of Knowledge was performed, using the keywords “homeless*”, “health*”, “provision”, “access” and “equity”. Informal interviews with healthcare professionals, homeless workers and service users were also performed.
- Services are often established by individuals and are not well supported by other services or suitably funded.
- There are very few specialist homeless health centres, which reduces primary care attendance.
- Wrap-around services, especially for those leaving institutions are often poor, and creates unnecessary and repeat homelessness.
- Criminal justice and community addiction services are poorly aligned, which may encourage criminality.
- Many hostels and day centres for the homeless are run by charities with limited council funding.