St Mungo’s has welcomed the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan and the commitment to invest up to £30m extra on improving the health of people who are sleeping rough.
The additional funding will be used to fund specialist NHS mental health support, integrated with existing homelessness outreach services.
People who are homeless experience some of the worst health outcomes in England, and, on average, die 30 years earlier than the general population.
Rough sleeping has risen by 169% since 2010, and the number of people who have died while homeless has risen by 24% since 2013.
Of the people seen sleeping rough in London in 2017-18, 50% had mental health problems, 43% had alcohol problems and 40% had drug problems.
Estimates also put the proportion with physical health conditions at 46%.
In a survey of street outreach services across England, carried out last year by St Mungo’s, 70% said mental health services for people sleeping rough had got harder to access compared with five years ago, and 42% said the same for substance use services.
Speaking on behalf of the charity, Dominic Williamson, Executive Director of Strategy and Policy at St Mungo’s, said: “We are pleased that ministers have listened and that the NHS Long Term Plan makes a specific commitment to improving healthcare provision for people sleeping rough.
“This commitment must be the start of a real effort to reduce the shocking health inequalities and premature deaths of people who are homeless.
“This means investing in specialist services and ensuring people with the most complex needs can access vital support to improve their health, including mental health and substance use problems,” he said.