Doctors warn of homelessness health crisis in hospitals

Doctors are warning that homeless people, including in the Mansfield area, are in desperate need of better support and access to services amid a ‘soul-destroying’ crisis.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 11:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 1:29 pm
A homeless man sleeping rough on the streets as passers-by carry on with their Christmas shopping.
A homeless man sleeping rough on the streets as passers-by carry on with their Christmas shopping.

The warning follows research by the British Medical Association (BMA) that reveals hospitals in England are dealing with a skyrocketing number of homeless patients with complex needs.

In 2018/19, more than 36,000 patients of no fixed address were seen by staff in emergency departments, which represents a threefold increase in eight years.

The number of homeless patients admitted to NHS hospitals has also soared, with 11,986 admissions recorded, compared to 3,378 in 2010/11.

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What's more, the research disclosed that hundreds of homeless patients are stuck in hospitals for three weeks or longer.

In 2018/19, long stays added up to 16,129 bed days. Within the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, five patients stayed for a total of 563 days, including one for 462 days.

Experts and frontline staff blame cuts to social care and support services, which mean the patients cannot find a permanent home.

Dr Simon Walsh, of the BMA, said: “All these figures are soul-destroying, They show the needs of homeless people continue to be ignored and the impact on hospitals not understood.

“Doctors see the harsh reality of homelessness in emergency departments every day. Community services have become radically over-stretched, meaning more homeless people are overlooked or left to fend for themselves. When they are ill or in need, hospitals become the net to catch them.”