St Albans homelessness nurse post faces axe

HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition against the loss of a nurse who specialises in dealing with homelessness in St Albans.

In the space of a week more than 400 people who use and are involved with Open Door, the hostel for the homeless in Bricket Road, St Albans, have signed the petition calling for the nurse, Marion Sklar, to remain in her job.

Marion was given a remit to set up a service for homeless people in St Albans over 10 years ago and is in constant contact with users of Open Door and Centre 33 in the city.

She was praised by the district council in its most recent housing strategy for her passionate dedication to her role, coupled with sound partnership arrangements with groups such as the police, mental health teams, community drug and alcohol units and their own housing department.

The petition calling for Marion to stay in her job praises her for supporting homeless people really well, providing care and support, being a good listener and respecting everyone she comes into contact with.

Open Door is run by the Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association where a spokesperson said this week that Marion had been employed by the NHS Hertfordshire, formerly the Primary Care Trust, and worked closely with the homelessness hostel.

But a spokesperson for NHS Herts stressed that Marion was retiring and was not in any way being forced out of her job although she admitted she might not be replaced on a like-for-like basis.

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She said that many of the health needs of homeless people were met by GPs working with community nurses and therapists in collaboration with the local authority. She added: “The retirement of the current identified lead for homeless people will not stop them being able to access services as they do now.”