The poor man at his gate

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6970.1675 (Published 24 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1675
  1. Iona Heath
  1. Iona Heath Chair, RCGP Inner City Task Force Kentish Town Health Centre, London NW5 2AJ

    Homelessness is an avoidable cause of ill health

    Amid the seasonal excesses it is easy to forget that at the heart of the Christmas story is a homeless family. To restore some balance to what is now a celebration of consumption it is useful to speculate what would have become of Mary and Joseph if—finding themselves in central London—they had presented themselves to Westminster City Council's Homeless Persons Unit. The bleak midwinter is exactly the right time to reflect on homelessness, and as members of a profession doctors have not only the right but the responsibility to speak out on matters of social justice.1

    Two recent reports do just that. Together they explore evidence pointing consistently to the conclusion that homelessness is destructive of health, and they make an unanswerable case for social investment in housing as a way of protecting the health of our most socioeconomically deprived …

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