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New national survey on access to health care for street sex workers

25 April 2019

Are health care services accessible to street sex workers and meeting their needs? Help us find out.

Street sex workers experience some of the worst physical and mental health in our society but little is known about how well health services meet their needs. Dr Lucy Potter, a GP with the Homeless Health Service, who does an outreach clinic at Bristol-based charity One25 and is a researcher at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), has opened a national survey to get the views of those working with street sex workers in the UK.

Street sex workers often have poor physical and mental health. They experience severe and multiple disadvantage, such as childhood and adult trauma, domestic and sexual violence, poor mental health and alcohol or substance misuse. The survey will help improve understanding of whether health care services are accessible and meeting street sex workers’ needs.

Dr Potter said: “Street sex workers have a right to health. They have experienced complex trauma and multiple disadvantage. Around the UK there are organisations and services that work directly with street sex workers, supporting them in different ways. Many of those who work on the frontline will be aware of their clients’ experiences of healthcare services, so we are keen for them to complete the survey.

“We hope to find examples of good practice that we can learn from, and also benefit from better understanding the gaps, where things are not working well and why that might be. We are also hoping to develop a network of people who would like to work together to improve services for this vulnerable group.”

If you work with street sex workers, we would like to hear your views. Please complete the survey here.

Study team, funder and contact details

Dr Lucy Potter, who is a GP who works with street sex workers, is leading the study. She is funded by a National Institute for Health Research In-Practice Fellowship.

Read Lucy’s blog about the survey on the One25 website.

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol.

About the National Institute for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.

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