A homeless person attends hospital in England every seven minutes, according to a new report by the Salvation Army.
The church and charity submitted a Freedom of Information request to NHS Trusts in England which revealed that in 2021/2022 over 78,000 hospital visits were recorded in England from patients of 'no fixed abode. More than 57,000 of those attended hospital – a rise of 33 per cent on 2017/2018. More than 21,000 were admitted to hospital – that’s a rise of 60 per cent.
Dr Will Pearson from the Salvation Army told Premier why they decided to carry out the survey :
“The Salvation Army is a large provider of accommodation, we have about 80 or so hostels across the country, we call them life houses. But recently, we've been concerned about the health of our residents. So we wrote to every NHS Trust in England and we asked them for the data on how many people are attending Accident and Emergency departments (A&E), how many people are being admitted, and how many of those people were homeless. What we found was that over the last four years, there's been a big rise in the number of hospital patients who are homeless. The number of homeless people visiting A&E is up by about a third and the number of people being admitted is up by almost two thirds.
“It’s particularly concerning because over those four years, the number of admissions across the population as a whole has actually come down. So in the general population, we're admitting fewer people. But for people who are homeless, it's up by over 60 per cent.
"It's frustrating because good care in the community is so much cheaper than hospital beds. And yet because of the lack of good support in the community, we're putting more of a strain on the NHS."
The Salvation Army fears the numbers will be even higher because while the data came from 114 NHS Trusts, a quarter of all Trusts failed to respond to the request for information.