Mildmay is really busy right now. In fact, we haven’t been so full in many years, which is tremendous news for our charity. We were able to withdraw the redundancy notices that were issued at the beginning of March. Those that wanted to stay could do so, and those who wanted to leave were still able to. It means that we are busy recruiting and in the meantime employing agency staff. All this, without long-term funding being agreed upon. But it keeps us operating and caring for vulnerable people.
The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has meant that NHS hospitals, in desperate need of beds, have been referring their HIV patients (including patients at the top end of complexity) to Mildmay, and this has given us a bit of a reprieve. Because the demand for beds has been so urgent, Mildmay and other organisations involved are side-stepping normal procedures and admitting patients before their funding agreements are in place, aiming to resolve this rather important issue down the line.
Mildmay’s CEO, Geoff Coleman, like many other NHS CEO's, has been reassured by NHS England that the funding will be made available, allowing Mildmay to play its part during the COVID-19 crisis, although we have not yet received any.
Geoff is striving to negotiate new contracts with NHS England and the NHS Commissioners. We continue to lobby MPs and ministers to persuade them that Mildmay’s unique services should be commissioned directly by NHS England, like other specialist services already are. Our MP Rushanara Ali has been a real star, exerting what influence she can, playing a massive part in helping us come this far.
Coronavirus has also presented us with the opportunity to pilot our new Homeless Pathway. With homelessness in London and other major cities across the UK increasing, there is an urgent need for highly focused, specialist care of the sort Mildmay provides. NHS hospitals across the capital can treat the illnesses and injuries of patients who are homeless but they don't have the capacity to give them time to recuperate before discharging them.
In fact, 70% of homeless patients are discharged from hospital back onto the street, without housing or underlying health problems being addressed. This is further damaging their health and increasing costs to the NHS through ‘revolving door’ admissions.
This is where Mildmay comes in.
Our aim is that no rough sleepers die on the street, no one is discharged from a hospital to the street and there is equal and fair access to healthcare for those who are homeless.
In addition, the cost-saving to the NHS is significant. Research by Crisis suggests that tackling homelessness early could save between £3,000 and £18,000 for every person helped.
Accepting patients who are homeless is in addition to continuing with our important, ongoing work with HIV patients - as we have been doing for over 30 years. We are keeping the two groups of patients in separate wards, negating risk of cross-infection. Both wards are effectively full, and we have people awaiting transfer. We are replacing older beds and opening up spaces that haven’t been used for a long time to give us even more capacity.
We have been gifted quantities of PPE – both donated from source and homemade by amazing seamstresses. Even with all this generosity, dedication and hard work, PPE has become a huge cost to the charity. In February we spent less than £800 on PPE, but in April we spent nearly £11,000!
We are hoping that some of this additional cost can be covered by donations from both individuals and charitable trusts. Four of our clinical team are modelling some fantastic homemade visors and donated masks below.
Mildmay is still under threat of closure as there isn’t a longer-term funding agreement yet in place with the NHS. But we remain hopeful, particularly now that we are full and providing two unique pathways of treatment for people with HIV and people who are homeless.
Thank you all once again for your amazing support. Please do keep us in mind, and share our story with your friends, colleagues, and social media.
Without your help, we still might simply have to close.
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