Homelessness: duty to refer – for NHS staff

Provides an overview of the duty to refer for NHS staff, including how to make a referral to a local authority.



On 1 October 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduced a new legal duty on specified public services to refer service users they consider may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to a local housing authority.

For health services the impact will be on NHS trusts and foundation trusts in the provision of any of the following NHS health services:

  • accident and emergency services in a hospital
  • urgent treatment centres
  • in-patient treatment (of any kind)

The basic legal requirement for a referral is the inclusion of:

  • the individual’s contact details
  • the individual’s consent
  • the agreed reason for the referral (that they are homeless or threatened with homelessness)

General guidance on the duty to refer has been been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Published 14 November 2018
Last updated 22 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Duty to refer: health services checklist' document, and inserted reference to this in the guidance.
  2. First published.