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Hospitals 'must help homeless patients'

Frontline NHS staff must identify patients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to help save hospitals money, according to a new report.

Improving Hospital Admission and Discharge for People who are Homeless offers a guide on how to treat homeless people.

It was published by Homeless Link and St Mungo’s after a study found that almost three quarters of homeless people (70%) are discharged back onto the streets when they leave hospital.

Working with local authorities and the voluntary sector to find suitable housing for patients would help to reduce readmissions to A&E, improve patient experience and cut costs, the researchers said.

They carried out a study of 85 homeless people, hospitals, local authorities and homelessness agencies, highlighting the work of the Pathway homelessness team at London’s University College Hospital (UCH) as an example of best practice.

According to the report, when a patient is found to be sleeping rough or at risk of becoming homeless, NHS staff should notify hostels, outreach teams and local authority housing teams.

The report recommends that all wards should have access to the homeless persons’ database and should contact local agencies when admitting homeless patients.

Care services minister Paul Burstow acknowledged the findings during a visit to UCH. The report was commissioned by the Department of Health, with the recommendations set to inform the National Inclusion Health Board.

Professor Steve Field, chair of the Inclusion Health Board, says: “The level of care provided at University College Hospital is what hospital Trusts around the country should be aspiring to. We will continue to challenge all parts of the health system to deliver a good service and improve health outcomes for those most vulnerable to poor health outcomes.”

 

Readers' comments (6)

  • This report is confusing to me, because as a nurse working in psychiatry for the last 11years this is something we have been dealing with on a daily basis at times patients are stuck in hospital because the council have no housing available hostels are filled to the brim some hostels will not take people who have psychiatric,alcohol, drugs problems or a history of violence. All the above mentioned is nothing new and has been happening for a long time the problem is now, there is not enough housing/placements available for patients that are homeless and are about to be discharged from hospital.

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  • there are some individuals, and i have no idea how many, who actually choose to live on the streets according to TV news reports at Christmas time. that is their life and even though they are offered places in hostels or even temporary places at Christmas they refuse as they risk somebody else taking their choice place.

    When seeking a place for them after hospitalisation it must be made absolutely clear with them if this is their wish otherwise they may just risk being placed and then going out to the streets again anyway. If they do wish to return to the streets, however, maybe they could accept temporary shelter until their health improves to reduce the chances of immediate return to hospital.

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  • Instead of staff phoning a number of agencies to find suitable accommodation for the homeless, each region needs to have a one stop coordinating centre which would have a database of all accommodation available, conditions, costs etc. Busy ward staff have no time phoning around.

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  • What are they going to do about the homeless nurses that are going to be flooding our streets?

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  • Steve Holland | 29-May-2012 0:41 am

    isn't that the role of the social worker. we had weekly meetings with ours to discuss the discharge of any patient which was problematic and she organised the rest and kept us regularly informed of her progress and we kept her updated about the patient.

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  • Surely ensuring this doesn't happen is part of our role as holistic nurses?! We should be looking after the patient as a whole and not just treating their condition.

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