Health and Homelessness standards
The Scottish Executive is very pleased to publish our Health and Homelessness Standards for NHS Boards. They are at the centre of our commitment to improve the health of homeless people.
Homeless people are among the most disadvantaged in our society, with poorer health and lower life expectancy than those who lead more settled lives. This is something we are determined to change and we see a key role for the NHS in tackling health inequalities by ensuring services are planned for, designed and delivered in ways that meet the needs of homeless people.
Good progress has been made in developing and delivering Health and Homelessness Action Plans in response to the Health and Homelessness Guidance (September 2001). The Guidance was endorsed by the Minister for Health and Community Care and Minister for Social Justice as a reflection of the Scottish Executive's joined-up approach to tackling homelessness. Our commitment remains firm and the Health and Homelessness Standards will require NHS Boards to re-state and further refine their commitment to meeting the health needs of homeless people.
Improving the health of homeless people requires long-term solutions and the Health and Homelessness Standards provide the structure for this approach. These have been produced through an inclusive process involving many individuals and organisations that work with homeless people. They are based on the experience of assessing the delivery of Health and Homelessness Action Plans and the lessons we have learned from this process about the most effective ways of working. These are not clinical standards; they are for the corporate level of NHS Boards and the performance of Boards against these Standards will be closely monitored through the NHS Performance Assessment Framework.
These Standards are a key component of the Scottish Executive's holistic approach to preventing and alleviating homelessness. We have in place the most progressive homelessness legislative and policy framework in Europe, and whilst we recognise that this creates a challenging agenda for change, the Executive is determined that by 2012 everyone in Scotland who is homeless will have the right to a home, and that the necessary support and health care people need to realise their potential will be in place.
Closing the opportunity gap - tackling poverty and disadvantage and promoting economic inclusion - is an over-arching aim of the Scottish Executive. The Health and Homelessness Standards support this aim and we will ensure that all NHS Boards meet these challenging requirements.
ANDY KERR MSP
MALCOLM CHISHOLM MSP