GPs unite to support St Albans homelessness nurse

GPs all over the St Albans district have come out in support of Marion Sklar, the nurse who deals with the homeless who is being pushed out of her job.

The GPs as a body want her to continue in her job not just because of the quality of the service she provides but also because it makes financial sense.

Marion has passed retirement age and has been told that her contract will not be renewed although she wants to continue in the role.

Even though she appealed against the decision, she was unsuccessful and will now leave her job on September 17.

Hundreds of people who use homelessness services in the district signed a petition calling for her to continue in the job.

And this week local GPs have given her their wholehearted backing. Dr Iain Dow, chairman of the Local Management Group, said that he spoke for every GP in St Albans in wanting her to remain in post.

He said that she had built up the service for the homeless in its entirety and had created a buffer between homeless people and health services which had been beneficial to everyone.

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He went on: “If one of those chaps is not coherent she will come to an appointment with him. She really gets to know these people, a lot of whom have mental health problems.”

Dr Dow has sent a number of emails to NHS Hertfordshire asking for Marion to continue in post until an alternative funding stream comes on line with NHS reforms, but none of them have received a reply.

He pointed out that she saved money for her employers, Hertfordshire Community Health Services (HCHS), the provider arm of NHS Hertfordshire, by managing the health of the homeless and keeping them from turning to A&E services for help.

And he described her as, “immeasurably reducing the health risks of this unpopular but nevertheless extremely vulnerable group.”

He likened her forced retirement to, “a stroke of the pen and a fantastic service is gone” and said local GPs dreaded her being got rid off and not replaced in any way.

Marion herself, who is very worried about what is going to happen to the homeless in St Albans in the future, did not want to comment on her plight other than to confirm that she wanted to stay but was being pushed out.

A spokesperson for NHS Hertfordshire said: “If the local GPs are keen that the service for homeless people in St Albans continues in the same way when Marion retires then the budgets allocated to them under practice-based commissioning allows them to do this.”