Evaluating a specialist primary care service for patients experiencing homelessness: A qualitative study

Emily Clark, Emily Player, Tara Gillam, Sarah Hanson, Nicholas Steel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Background: People experiencing homelessness (PEH) often experience poor health, multimorbidity, and early mortality and experience barriers to accessing high quality health care. Little is known about how best to provide specialist primary care for these patients. Aim: To evaluate the health care provided to patients experiencing homelessness who were seen in a specialist primary care service. Design & setting: A qualitative evaluation of a city centre primary healthcare service for excluded and vulnerable people, such as rough sleepers, who find it difficult to visit mainstream GP services. Method: Data on patient characteristics and service use were extracted from primary care records using electronic and free-text searches to provide context to the evaluation. Semi-structured interviews with 11 patients and four staff were used to explore attitudes and experiences. Results: Patients had high needs compared with the general population. Patients valued continuity of care, ease of access, multidisciplinary care, and person-centred care. Staff were concerned that they lacked opportunities for reflection and learning, and that low clinical capacity affected service safety and quality. Staff also wanted more patient involvement in service planning. Conclusion: PEH's complex health and social problems benefited from a specialist primary care service, which is thought to reduce barriers to access, treat potentially challenging patients in a nonjudgmental way, and provide personal continuity of care in order to develop trust.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjgpopen20X101049
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • General practice
  • Homeless persons
  • Inequalities
  • Mental health
  • Patient perspectives
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Primary health care

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