In April 2019, Children and Family Health Surrey launched a two-year outreach programme to improve the health of local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities.
The project is the first NHS-led Surrey-wide GRT health initiative and is funded through Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership transformation funds.
Following the launch, the impact of the new service has proved extremely successful.
To date, 479 people have been seen, including:
- 7 antenatal contacts
- 7 new birth visits
- 10 6-8 week reviews
- 4 Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) developmental checks
- 16 adults weighed
- 23 adults given blood pressure checks
- Referrals to a variety of partner services, including 6 GP referrals and numerous calls from GRT mothers which saved A&E attendances
- 3 referrals to the continence service
- 2 referrals for urgent dental treatment
- Referrals for babies with severe tongue tie and developmental delay
Many other health issues were picked up during visits which included hypertension, domestic violence, sexual health, mental health, public health and environmental risks, safeguarding and poorly managed chronic illnesses.
The team is working with existing links within GRT communities as well as partnering with a range of health and other agencies such as Maternity services, the new Primary Care Networks, Children’s and Adults Social Services (including the Early Help Hub), Diabetes UK, Cancer support services, St. John Ambulance and others.
NHS staff and partner agencies across Surrey are now being offered Cultural Awareness Training to improve their engagement with GRT communities and to help reduce the inequalities the GRT communities face trying to access healthcare.
Lisa Gavin, 0-19 Homeless Health and Surrey Gypsy and Traveller Project Lead said: “We are privileged to have been welcomed by the GRT communities on sites, in their homes and at roadside encampments.
“We value the support from all our professional partners and are delighted by their commitment to help us redress the inequalities GRT communities face.”
Trudy Mills, Director of Children and Family Health Surrey and Strategy Lead for Women’s and Children, Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership said:
“I’m delighted to share the success of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) Health outreach programme since the launch in April, showing improved health outcomes for GRT communities in Surrey.
“Children and Family Health Surrey are proud to be providing the first Surrey-wide programme, promoting better engagement and understanding of the community’s needs and allowing easier access to routine healthcare.
“The team have worked hard to build trust and familiarity within the communities and also encourage links and key relationships where they already exist”.
Surrey has the fourth largest GRT population of any UK county with the GRT population estimated at around 10,000 – 12,000. Research continues to show life expectancy is lower for GRT people and their health needs are not fully met by traditional NHS services.