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New standards for all NHS boards will ensure homeless people have the same level of health services across Scotland...
New standards for all NHS boards will ensure homeless people have the same level of health services across Scotland as the rest of the community.

The health and homelessness standards, announced today by health minister Malcolm Chisholm, will be published later this year and will cover areas such as:

* access to services including primary, acute, mental health and substance misuse

* needs assessment

* admission and discharge procedures

* involving service users

Speaking at a joint Scottish Executive and Scottish Council for Single Homeless conference in Dundee, Mr Chisholm said:

'People who are homeless are entitled to the same quality of health care as anyone else in Scotland.

'I am determined to make sure that this happens.

'Our targeted work has achieved much in a short period of time. We have appointed a health and homelessness co-ordinator to champion this policy.

'There have also been significant achievements across the country with all 15 NHS Boards implementing health and homelessness action plans. Although improving health has no quick fixes, every health board is making progress.

'To help ensure that the same high standards of health care for homeless people are achieved across the country we are publishing new health and homelessness standards.

'The standards will also provide mechanisms to monitor how they are being delivered. These will highlight excellence and best practice as well and show up poor performance which requires action.

'Involving patients should be at the core of the health service. Service providers need to listen more and also take action on any feedback.

Health and Homelessness Guidance was published by the Scottish Executive

in September 2001. This required all NHS boards to produce Health and Homelessness Action Plans which outlined local challenges in improving the health of homeless people alongside solutions to these. All NHS boards are implementing their Plans and performance is regularly assessed.

Sue Irving was appointed as health and homelessness co-ordinator in April

2001. Her role has been to champion this policy, support NHS boards in their work and raise awareness of both health and homelessness issues.

The Health and Homelessness Standards will be published by the end of

2004. These will cover areas such as:

* Access to health services, including primary, acute and secondary care, mental health services and substance misuse services

* Admission and discharge procedures

* Needs assessment

* Standards for the planning and delivery of Health and Homelessness Action Plans

* Involving service users

* Resourcing the standards

* Corporate support

Action Together - The Health and Homelessness Conference 2004 is being held in Dundee today, in partnership with the Scottish Council for Single Homeless. It will be attended by 160 delegates and will provide opportunities to promote best practice and to work through the many challenges of improving the health of homeless people.

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