The HealthBus Trust, an award-winning charity, is committed to providing specialised healthcare services to individuals experiencing homelessness in Bournemouth and its environs. Utilising a mobile GP-led service, the Trust collaborates with a diverse multidisciplinary team and third-sector homeless service providers to deliver tailored care directly to those in emergency accommodation or sleeping rough. This initiative specifically addresses the barriers and health inequalities that hinder access to mainstream healthcare.

Through partnerships with both clinical and non-clinical teams, the HealthBus Trust establishes a comprehensive service dedicated to enhancing the physical and mental well-being of individuals, supporting addiction recovery, and facilitating their transition out of homelessness. This holistic approach not only benefits the homeless population but also eases the burden on NHS secondary care, thereby freeing up resources for the wider community. Operating in neighbourhoods deemed ‘most deprived’ according to the 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation, the Trust strategically focuses on areas with pronounced needs, including one ranked 528 out of 32,844 in the UK.

The overarching mission of the HealthBus Trust is to provide accessible, high-quality, patient-centred healthcare for individuals experiencing homelessness. This initiative aims to address health inequalities and alleviate pressure on the NHS and frontline services by breaking the cycle of ‘revolving door’ patients. The Trust firmly believes in the equal right of every person to receive effective and evidence-based healthcare within a safe and non-judgmental environment. Drawing inspiration from the recovery model developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (Ellison, 2018), the HealthBus Trust Model emphasizes person-centred care, empowerment, purpose, and hope.

Critical to the Trust’s success are key clinical roles, including GPs, Specialist Nurses, and Social Prescriber. These professionals often serve as the first and only trusted relationship for individuals accessing care, marking the initial step in their recovery journey. The HealthBus Trust’s strategy involves taking healthcare directly to individuals on the margins of society, offering hope and opportunity precisely when needed.

The HealthBus Trust boasts a commendable track record of person-centred care, exemplifying a commitment to thorough assessments, identification of individual needs, and the implementation of comprehensive long-term support plans. Their approach extends beyond providing high-quality, patient-centred healthcare; they have strategically established robust referral pathways to address a spectrum of issues. This includes partnering with organisations to facilitate support plans for broader challenges, such as legal assistance, mental health services, counselling support, and addressing concerns related to drugs and alcohol. Through these well-established partnerships, they empower individuals to access not only healthcare services but also broader avenues such as social care, employment, training, education, and the development of self-advocacy skills. This holistic framework ensures that each person they serve receives tailored support addressing their unique circumstances, fostering their overall well-being and enabling a path toward sustained improvement and self-sufficiency.

Dr. Maggie Kirk, the charity’s Founder, reflects on the challenges faced by homeless individuals in engaging with traditional health services. As a result, health problems often go unchecked until it is too late or an emergency develops, often at great cost to the individual and health services. Kevin was one such person, he wrote this message asking that it be shared with anyone who’ll listen:

“Without the bus, my condition would have been left undiagnosed. I wouldn’t have been taken to hospital. I wouldn’t have gotten treatment. This bus needs to continue as homelessness continues. The mobility of the bus also allows me and other rough sleepers to access the service ‘conveniently’ and easily, especially since my mobility isn’t very good.”

The HealthBus Trust was established in December 2016 to address this issue, inspired by stories like Kevin’s, who tragically passed away on the streets. Kevin’s message underscores the vital role of the bus in providing timely diagnosis, treatment, and accessibility for those with mobility challenges.

The HealthBus’s pioneering work has garnered recognition locally and nationally, culminating in the prestigious King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS) in November 2023. This award, equivalent to an MBE, reflects the organisation’s exceptional contribution to individual lives and the broader community, showcasing the positive impact on the well-being of the area.


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Without a permanent home, it can be difficult to access healthcare for many reasons. The HealthBus team offer specialist GP and medical services at the point of need. They work in partnership with other services providers, such as addiction and mental health specialists, to help people find the support they need to move on in life.

One rough sleeper, Dean, said of the HealthBus service: “No one sets out to be purposefully on the streets … sometimes you face situations which just leave you broken and desperate. After losing my job, home and key relationships my mental health deteriorated; and I resorted to harmful substances which drove me to the streets. After lots of encouragement from visiting health professionals, I have found hope and compassion from those involved with the HealthBus. This service is a lifeline! A much-needed refuge for those who are vulnerable. The staff and team involved with the HealthBus have saved and are saving lives … this work must continue!”