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Healthcare service for the homeless to close its city centre base

PUBLISHED: 11:03 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:05 30 January 2020

The City Reach service, based at Under One Roof, at Westwick Street, Norwich, will move to GP practices around the city. 
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The City Reach service, based at Under One Roof, at Westwick Street, Norwich, will move to GP practices around the city. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

An award-winning service which provides healthcare to the homeless is shutting its city centre base.

City Reach, which provides healthcare to the homeless and vulnerable, is closing its Norwich city centre base in April. Picture: Archant LibraryCity Reach, which provides healthcare to the homeless and vulnerable, is closing its Norwich city centre base in April. Picture: Archant Library

Doctors, nurses and support workers at Norwich's City Reach, in Westwick Street, help people who have difficulty accessing a GP practice, including rough sleepers, sex workers, asylum seekers and drug addicts.

It also provides services for vulnerable people at hostels, refuges and day centres around the city.

But Norfolk Community Health and Social Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), which runs the clinic, said it is closing in April this year.

Instead, the service will be moved to GP practices and support workers will help people register.

Emma Corlett, Labour city councillor in Norwich, believed the City Reach service should remain in Westwick Street. Picture: Emma CorlettEmma Corlett, Labour city councillor in Norwich, believed the City Reach service should remain in Westwick Street. Picture: Emma Corlett

An NHS spokesman said: "The new model has been designed following extensive discussions with service users and professionals involved in this field.

"It would mean the service would be more flexible and responsive for people, improving the quality of care they receive, and ensure they are helped to access the full range of GP services that everyone else in society can normally access."

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But city councillor Emma Corlett, inset, said the move would be a "bad mistake".

"They should have made a greater effort to staff the one service properly," Ms Corlett said.

"There is great strength in having one single place for vulnerable people to go to - being able to access a service that is clearly just for you without stigma is really important.

"It is under one roof and close to other services that they made need access to."

She called for a consultation to be carried out, but this was rejected by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for Norfolk & Waveney.

Cath Byford, CCG chief nurse, said the move was not a big enough change to need a consultation.

According to minutes from a Norfolk County Council health committee meeting, the service could move to five GP practices.

The committee in October last year also discussed the staffing shortfalls that have affected the service.

City Reach opened in 2003 and won the NCH&C's Reach for the Stars award in 2011.


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