Hundreds of homeless admitted as emergencies to Doncaster hospitals for alcohol, drug and mental health issues

Homelessness was a factor in hundreds of emergency hospital admissions at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust over five years, new figures show.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 11:05 am

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.

NHS Digital data obtained by RADAR reveals roughly 245 emergency visits to Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had a diagnosis of homelessness in the five years to March.

The trust figures, which are rounded to the nearest five, cover patients where the primary or secondary cause of admission was homelessness.

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NHS Digital data obtained by RADAR reveals roughly 245 emergency visits

Across England, 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.

However, this number fell back to 12,000 in 2020-21 amid efforts to get people off the streets and into emergency accommodation through the Everyone In initiative.

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".

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He added: “We have an opportunity now to continue and build on this progress.

"A room in a B&B or hotel is not a home, and 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."

Abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as mental health problems, are among the most common reasons for hospital admissions among homeless people nationally, the figures show.

Homeless Link said many vulnerable people have had such negative experiences when accessing health care that they put off seeking help until they’ve reached crisis point.

Rick Henderson, the charity’s CEO, called on the Government to scale up Housing First services – where rough sleepers are given their own home and intensive support – and invest in a pilot programme developing specialist mental health services for those experiencing homelessness.

"We also need to create more hospital teams which bring together different disciplines to provide holistic, long-term support to those who do need emergency care, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of them returning to A&E unnecessarily," he said.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.