St George's Hospital has announced a new plan to help support the homeless community through its A and E department.

The hospital revealed last week that homeless people will be helped off the streets — and treated for their illness and injuries — by doctors and nurses at the NHS hospital's A and E department this winter thanks to a blossoming partnership with homeless charity Pathway.

The initiative will see a team made up of a GP, specialist nurse, care navigator and two housing advisors offer medical treatment, advice and support to help homeless people get off the streets and hopefully into accommodation.

It was created after proposals from the South West London Clinical Commissioning Group successfully secured funding from the Department of Health and Social Care for the project, which will initially run for a 12-month period costing around £360,000.

The scheme, which St George's said aims to support 400 people this winter, has won the support of Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour's shadow secretary of state for mental health, and the founder of The Big Issue magazine Lord John Bird, who attended its launch on Thursday (November 18).

"The cause of homelessness is complex but knowing that specialist staff at St George’s are stepping in to help this winter is fantastic," Lord Bird said. "Their passion is moving, and I’m sure the support they’ll provide will make a real difference to some of London’s homeless people."

Rough sleepers people often suffer from multiple health issues, while the average age of death for people experiencing homeless is much lower than the general population (43 years old for women, 46 years old for men) according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Inpatients experiencing homeless also face higher risks of emergency readmission to hospital than patients in housing according to research from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The new St George's and Pathway venture is set to start treating its first patients on November 29.

Alex Bax, Chief Executive of Pathway, said: "We are pleased to have been a part of setting up this service at St George’s and it has been inspiring to work with a team who are so clearly committed to caring for some of London’s most vulnerable people. Winter is the toughest time of year for people experiencing homelessness, so the fact that the team will start seeing new patients in the next few weeks is great news."

Dr Richard Jennings, the chief medical officer at St George’s, meanwhile said he found his colleague's creation of the new project "inspiring" as he reflected on the ongoing strains they and the community are under.

"It’s been a tough year in the Emergency Department – and across the hospital – for all the doctors, nurses and everyone working behind the scenes and I am incredibly proud that they still go above and beyond to care for patients," Dr Jennings said. "I find it inspiring that my colleagues, despite all the pressures they work under, have created this new service to help homeless people, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We would like to encourage everyone to do everything possible to keep themselves well this winter including getting their covid-19 and flu vaccines as soon as possible as they are the best protection against both viruses."