Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

A mobile surgery for single homeless people in London.

British Medical Journal 1989; 298 doi: (Published 11 February 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;298:372
  1. S. S. Ramsden,
  2. P. Nyiri,
  3. J. Bridgewater,
  4. D. J. el-Kabir
  1. Wytham Hall Sick Bay, London.


    Little is known about the social and medical characteristics of people who regularly sleep rough, or whether medical care can be targeted at these people. In 1987 a mobile surgery was used to provide primary health care at two sites in central London where many single homeless people sleep outdoors. One hundred and forty six patients were seen with illnesses ranging from scabies to osteomyelitis and tuberculosis. Sociodemographic data showed the patients to be generally an isolated group with deprived and unstable backgrounds, often compounded by alcohol abuse. Over a third of the patients from one site attended a drop in surgery for homeless people in Soho within a month after seeing a doctor in the mobile surgery. This suggests that the project can be a first step in integrating this isolated group with health care facilities.