Hospital staff treating three homeless people a week

Emergency hospital staff in Sunderland had to factor in homelessness as an issue up to three times a week when treating patients last year, new figures show.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:53 pm
Health action call over homeless

NHS Digital data obtained shows 145 emergency visits to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust hospitals involved people who were homelessness in the year to March.

Nationally, emergency admissions linked to homelessness rose significantly in the four years before the coronavirus pandemic – from 11,300 in 2016-17 to 16,700 in 2019-20 – falling back to 12,000 in 2020-21 after efforts to get people off the streets and into emergency accommodation through the pandemic.

Charities have urged the Government to do more to improve health services for vulnerable people nationally and focus on providing stable homes for those sleeping rough.

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Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at homelessness charity Crisis, said the drop in admissions last year "is one of the success stories of the pandemic".

He added: “We need continued cross-government action to tackle the housing crisis if we want to ensure these figures do not revert back to the escalating numbers we were seeing prior to the pandemic."

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokeswoman said: “Rough sleepers are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and the Government is committed to ending rough sleeping once and for all.

“We recently announced £66m to provide somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers to stay this winter and help those in trapped in drug and alcohol addiction and £30m for specialist mental health services.”