Wales to appoint health needs ‘tsar’

A “tsar” to champion the health needs of homeless people is to be appointed by the Welsh assembly government.

Welsh ministers believe existing health services inadequately cater for the needs of homeless people, making it more difficult for them to escape poverty. They hope a tsar working across assembly government departments will help to co-ordinate national policy and deliver targeted services locally.

The post, which is to be announced next month, has been created after lobbying from homelessness organisations in Wales. A recent report by Shelter Cymru found the health of 84 per cent of homeless people had suffered because of their housing conditions.

One of the tsar’s first jobs is likely to be to develop a network of GPs dedicated to working with homeless people in all 22 health boards in Wales. Studies have shown that rough sleepers and those living in temporary housing struggle to register with a GP because they lack a permanent address.

Shelter Cymru policy officer John Pritchard said the post would be instrumental in improving joint working and communication between assembly departments.

He said: “It’s difficult to get health and housing talking on a national and local level. [The tsar] will ensure that strategies for improving health in Wales have actions for improving the health of homeless people and on a local level influence the work of health boards addressing the barriers for accessing services.”

Conrad Watkins, director of Swansea-based Cyrenians Cymru, said the tsar should help set up targeted health support in every county in Wales.

Further information
Shelter Cymru
Cyrenians Cymru

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.