A TOP healthcare campaigner and doctor who has worked in Bolton and Bury has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.

Dr Zahid Chauhan has been recognised for his work with those of no fixed address, plus his creation of the Homeless-Friendly charity.

He had previously met a homeless man who was pulling his own teeth out with pliers, which made him assess the services available.

Now with partners across the region, the scheme has given quality healthcare to rough sleepers, saving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Dr Chauhan's journey began when he was doing his rounds with BARDOC – a local out-of-hours health provider.

“I met a homeless man who was pulling out his own teeth with a pair of pliers in order to relieve severe dental pain. I have since encountered people who have walked miles to A&E units in extreme agony because they couldn't get treatment in a surgery.

“With an average life expectancy of just 47-years-of age, rough sleepers are in need of the best healthcare physically and mentally. And yet back then, they were receiving the worst provision in our community.”

Dr Chauhan aimed to use his profile as a respected GP and board member of BARDOC to persuade practices to pledge to examine their procedures and make sure they catered fully for homeless people.

Dr Chauhan added: “It speaks volumes for the compassion in our healthcare service that we now have hospitals, hospices and surgeries who have made Homeless-Friendly vows.

I was particularly pleased when the Bolton Community Practice signed up. They cover such a wide and diverse population and are already leaders in helping those affected by domestic violence or family breakdown. And of course, Bury was the first council to become Homeless-Friendly and Fairfield the premiere hospital in the country to pledge.”

Here are all the other people from in and around Bolton awarded New Year Honours

Speaking about his award, he said: “I think when you receive an award of this magnitude, you are always indebted to those who have backed you – and never more than in this case. My supportive family, colleagues within health and social care and the community have been so encouraging.

"My small Homeless-Friendly team has made a huge impact and enacted a cultural shift towards homeless rough sleepers and yes, saved lives. It is to all of these people that I dedicate this honour. It is truly theirs as much as mine."