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GPs sleeping rough in bid to highlight plight of homeless patients

Three Portsmouth GPs will sleep rough for a night in a bid to raise awareness of the growing homelessness problem in the area.

Dr Linda Collie, chief clinical officer for the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (PCCG) , Dr Elizabeth Fellows, chair of the PCCG Governing board and Dr Barbara Rushton, South Eastern Hampshire CCG governing body chair, will sleep out on a football field as part of a national fundraising campaign on 16 April.

The CEO Pompey Sleepout is part of an initiative inviting leading figures across the country to spend a night sleeping in the open air to raise funds for local causes fighting homelessness.

Dr Collie said: ‘I see a number of patients who are homeless and when you listen to their stories it is clear that homelessness can happen to anyone.

‘Charities are working hard to give homeless people a helping hand so they can get back on their feet. Once they have housing, health improves, they can access benefits and support and find employment.’

Dr Fellows said: ‘We have a surgery that is close to the Hope House facility, in Milton Road, and so we see many patients who have been homeless and some who still are. As a CCG we need to consider all of our population in the city and those without homes can be invisible, so this is a reminder to include them in our consultations and plans.’

Dr Rushton said: ‘Sleeping rough can have massive effects on both physical and mental health. Circumstances can change quickly and you can find yourself homeless. By experiencing this, it can help us understand the health needs of the homeless further.’

The GPs will be joining other leaders from the Portsmouth area and will be sleeping on the grounds of Fratton Park – home to Portsmouth Football Club – from 8pm to 6am.

Money raised from the event will be shared among charities that help the homeless.

Dr Rushton told Pulse: ‘We have all experienced some very cold nights this winter. I am particularly concerned as I too have experienced sleeping in the intense cold at altitude in the Himalayas on various different treks. I had proper gear and still felt how draining the cold can be. I would be grateful if you felt able to donate to this event, I am hoping for a balmy spring night but in any case I shall be there sleeping under the stars.’