Wednesday, November 25, 2020

130% surge in number of rough sleepers admitted to hospital over last five years

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The number of homeless people and rough sleepers admitted to hospitals has risen by around 130% in the last five years, with more than 500 admissions per week medically linked to homelessness.

New research published today reveals that a total of 28,000 homeless people were admiited to hospitals in England in 2018, compared to 24,500 the previous year.

A report by the King’s Fund says many homeless people and rough sleepers find themselves admitted to hospitals because treatable health conditions may not discovered until they become more serious.

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The lack of a fixed abode and mobile phone means that homeless people often struggle to gain access to healthcare services, resulting in a swift deterioration in their physical and mental health.

According to the report, the average age of death for rough sleepers is just 45 for men and 43 for women, which is 30 years less than the average life expectancy among the general population.

Julia Cream, lead author of the report from the King’s Fund, said: “People who sleep rough are living on the margins of society and can face a toxic combination of drug and alcohol dependence, poor mental health, childhood trauma, abuse, and domestic violence.

“No one agency has all the solutions – health, housing, care and criminal justice all have to work hand in hand.

“Our research shows that the health and care of people who sleep rough can be improved when long-term funding is combined with local collaboration, listening to the needs of people who sleep rough and enabling staff to do the right thing.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said the report’s findings should “serve as a wake up call” for the Government, and called for urgent action to “tackle the root causes of homelessness” such as building more genuinely affordable homes and raising housing benefit rates.

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A government spokesperson told The Independent: “We’re committed to ensuring people have a roof over their heads and access to the right health services.

“We expect local authorities to work closely with clinical commissioning groups to commission services for everyone and we’re changing the law to make sure they prioritise homeless people.

“We’re investing £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness and our Rough Sleeping Strategy will help people off the streets and into homes.

“The NHS Long Term Plan also commits up to £30m extra over five years to meet the health needs of rough sleepers.”

The news comes after a seperate report warned that the true number of rough sleepers could be five-times greater than official Government statistics.

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