Children and Family Health Surrey (CFHS), launches a two year outreach programme to improve the health of local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities from April. The project, which is the first Surrey-wide GRT health initiative, has been commissioned by Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System (ICS).

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.

The new Surrey-wide project will be delivered by a specialist GRT team led by First Community Health and Care health visitor Lisa Gavin. “We are thrilled to be expanding our GRT health advocacy and outreach programme to the rest of Surrey. The team will build on our existing relationships with local Traveller communities and develop new connections so we can provide support and care to   GRT communities, who typically have less contact with NHS services and their health needs and outcomes can be different to other local people,” she said.

The new outreach project builds on the success of a recent GRT health improvement programme carried out by First Community’s 0 – 19 Homeless Health Team. This project was funded by the Queen’s Nursing Institute and provided innovative care and support to GRT communities in east Surrey.

The specialist GRT health team will also provide training to other healthcare staff so they too can work more effectively with Traveller communities.

“Sharing our specialist knowledge with other healthcare professionals and working closely with the existing health visiting and school nursing teams as well as partner organisations, including Surrey Heartlands maternity services, is a key part of this project. We will support partners to deliver more accessible services to help to improve the health outcomes for the local GRT community now and in the future”, Lisa added.

Children and Family Health Surrey services are provided by three established NHS providers: CSH Surrey, First Community Health and Care and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust. Visit https://childrenshealthsurrey.nhs.uk/ for more information about Children and Family Health Surrey.