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Islington Council and private firm NowMedical tell man with depression and overdose history he's not vulnerable enough for priority housing

PUBLISHED: 13:41 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 29 July 2019

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

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A soon-to-be homeless man with a history of depression and deliberate drug overdoses isn't vulnerable enough to qualify for priority housing, according to Islington Council and its private medical advisor.

The man, who the Gazette has agreed not to name, suffers from mixed anxiety and depressive disorder and is prone to "deliberate" overdose attempts using drugs like GHB and alcohol, according to his GP in official documents produced by the council.

NowMedical is contracted, until May 22 next year, to assess housing and homelessness applications and advise Islington Council if people qualify for priority need accommodation, though officers get the final decision.

Islington Council twice approached NowMedical and asked if the man met the statutory threshold for vulnerability - namely, whether he would be "significantly more vulnerable" if made homeless than an "ordinary person" in the same position.

But in reports dated May 22 and June 4, two advisors argued the man's main issue is "substance abuse", that he showed "no evidence of acute mental illness" and has "no psychotic or active suicidal thoughts to consider".

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"It's a nightmare," the man told the Gazette. "NowMedical is terrible. I have had problems over the past seven years where I have taken so many overdoses I couldn't cope - I've even been flown to hospital in an air ambulance.

"In my own personal opinion it seems as if they are writing whatever the council needs to hear to wash their hands with me.

"Do they realise this is people's lives?"

The man, who lost everything after a "chaotic family breakdown a few years ago," thinks its "disgusting" NowMedical has made its assessment without meeting him in person. NowMedical and its director Dr John Keen did not reply to our request for comment.

A letter from Islington Council's adult and social services team signed June 24 informed the man his temporary accommodation, outside the borough, would be revoked on July 15. This was pushed back to July 22 after he complained - but instead of being kicked out that day, he was instead taken to different supported accommodation in Islington.

An Islington Council spokesperson said: "[The man's] case is currently under review, and we will continue to provide temporary accommodation until his review is completed. We understand [he] is worried about his future. Regardless of the outcome of his review, we will work with [him] to assist him in finding accommodation that is suitable for him."

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