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Dr Jules Eden
"Homeless people often have difficulty accessing medical treatment"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 August, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
First aid for the homeless
Homeless person
Homeless people are vulnerable to injury and disease
Doctors are providing homeless people with homeopathic medicine kits in an initiative designed to stop minor injuries turning into serious problems.

The scheme is the brainchild of GP Dr Jules Eden, who works at a drop-in centre for the homeless.

The kits contain a range of homeopathic medicines, moisturising cream, suncream, soap, sticking plasters, dressings and bandages.

Dr Eden said that homeless people were at greater risk of minor injuries because of the harsh environment in which they live.

Problems can include skin chaffing, cigarette burns and cuts and grazes.

Without an address, homeless people can find it difficult to access medical care - which compounded their problems.

Delay in treatment

Dr Jules Eden
The project is the brainchild of Dr Jules Eden

Dr Eden said: "I used to see them coming in not just immediately after an incident, but two or three weeks later when a small scratch or cut had turned into quite a big ulcer.

"That caused problems because then it would not be a simple thing to treat. You may often have to refer them to a plastic surgeon, or give them high dose antibiotics to get rid of any infection."

Dr Eden said the kit contained nothing that could be abused, such as antibiotics, high dose painkillers or steroid creams.

"The homeopathy works well, and also it is not re-sellable."

The kit contains information about how homeless people can get to see a doctor.

The scheme has already been tested in London, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham and Sheffield.

The aim is to roll out the system over the whole of the UK.

A spokesman for the homeless charity Shelter said: "Extending choice to the homeless is to be applauded.

"Although the real issue is gaining them access to health care through easy registration with local GPs based on flexibility for someone who has no fixed address."

Recent research by Shelter suggests only 30% of homeless are registered with a GP. This compares with a registration of 97% in the general population.

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See also:

13 Oct 99 | Health
Mentally ill face eviction
03 Nov 99 | Health
Mentally ill face homelessness
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