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.”