Public funding to improve access to medical care for rough sleepers

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Australia’s health minister said $3 million would go to mobile medical services for homeless people, as part of a wider primary care budget announcement for those at risk over the next 10 years.

In a statement Thursday, Greg Hunt said the nonprofit Street doctors would receive additional government funding to support its GP-led mobile services.

“This funding will expand the capacity and geographic reach of Street Side Medics to ensure more people have access to primary care,” the minister said.

Street Side Medics operates out of a van to provide health examinations, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, and produces and implements health care plans for homeless people.

The Sydney-based organization’s services are also supported by health specialists providing cardiology, infectious disease, gastroenterology, physiotherapy and podiatry services.

In Australia, young people, children under care and protection orders, Indigenous Australians and people over the age of 55 are particularly at risk of homelessness. Women and children fleeing family and domestic violence are also at disproportionate risk.

“People who are homeless are at significantly higher risk for poor health outcomes, including higher morbidity and mortality,” Hunt added.

More than 116,000 people of all ages are homeless across the country – and the resulting poorer health outcomes also tend to affect those most socially and economically disadvantaged. Services such as Street Side Medics provide these vulnerable groups with access to primary health care where access to general practitioners is otherwise limited.


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