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Call to review care of homeless people and travellers

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The RCN Council must lobby agencies to review access to health and social care for socially excluded groups such as travelling communities and homeless people, nurses have said.

Nurses voted almost unanimously in favour of a motion, proposed by Marcelle De Sousa, of the RCN’s adolescent health forum, which raised concerns about quality of care for these groups.

‘The gap between rich and poor is the widest it has been since 1960. Travellers often find that permanent sites are by the sides of roads, factories or industrial plants and they have high incidences of asthma and eczema.’

However, she added that the care they received was often inadequate.’When they access the health service, they find they don’t fit in the system,’ she added.

Many struggle to access care and when they do, they sometimes face discrimination, said Lorraine Tinker, of the paediatric oncology forum.

‘Ambulances won’t attend fixed sites, or they are not able to access primary care. Yet there are drug and alcohol problems and domestic violence. I support the resolution to ensure that there is an end to this inequality of access for these most vulnerable members of society.’

Gareth Phillips, RCN council member for Wales, warned delegates to ignore leaflets left outside the congress hall from the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The leaflets criticised Ealing Council for hiring a ‘Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Liason [sic] Officer’.

‘These leaflets have no place at RCN Congress,’ he said. The motion was agreed by 99% of those present.

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