Bid to recruit mental health team to help Portsmouth homeless stutters due to recruitment difficulties

EFFORTS to recruit a new mental health team to work with homeless people across Portsmouth have 'failed' due to the shortage of specialist healthcare vacancies.

By Josh Wright
Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:47 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:50 pm

The posts, funded through a successful joint bid by Southampton and Portsmouth city councils to NHS England, would have seen a GP, nurse and dedicated drug and alcohol workers employed.

But the recruitment issues has delayed the launch of the £150,000-a-year scheme with a second round of recruitment having now been started in an attempt to find staff.

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Efforts are being made to put together a mental health team to help the homeless

Portsmouth director of public health Helen Atkinson said there was some 'good news' with the number of grants won but said pressures in the NHS had exacerbated existing issues in filling vacancies.

'We've been very successful in Portsmouth in being able to bid for funding,' she said at Thursday's health overview and scrutiny panel meeting. '[This] has supported the CCGs to deliver the homeless health care team, which has been very effective.

'But we just haven't managed to recruit to some serious mental health support positions.

'The NHS is under such pressure, particularly around workforce that it is quite difficult to recruit at the moment, particularly if it's not Covid-related.'

The funding was awarded by NHS England to 'improve access and engagement' for homeless people with health services by identifying 'barriers to access'.

The scheme is also aimed at providing individual support for each person.

In a statement, Portsmouth City Council said it had expanded its efforts in a bid to fill the roles.

'Portsmouth City Council recently worked with NHS partners and Southampton City Council to jointly bid for new funding from NHS England to develop mental health support for homeless [people] in the two cities,' it said.

'This funding will go towards providing additional staffing in Portsmouth to work alongside other teams to provide an integrated multi-agency response to support the needs of rough sleepers, including dedicated drug and alcohol workers, a GP and a primary care nurse.

'It can be a challenge to recruit staff in this sector, and the pandemic has contributed to recruitment challenges across the health sector.

'Portsmouth City Council is now working with NHS partners and the voluntary sector to identify other avenues to recruit staff and provide this valuable service. '