Housing

'We must break the cycle': homeless people 60 times more likely to go to A&E

Homeless Link policy director insists that only joined-up approach from services will prevent people being released on to streets “patched up”

A leading homelessness charity has called for health services to “break the cycle” after it was revealed that homeless people are 60 times more likely to visit A&E than the general population.

Caroline Bernard, head of policy and communications at Homeless Link, told The Big Issue insisted that the findings from the University of Birmingham study shows the barriers that homeless people face in accessing primary care.

The research found that mental health problems and substance abuse are widespread among the homeless population. A high prevalence of infectious hepatitis C was also identified.

We need to break the cycle. Better local partnership working between health and homelessness specialists will help those experiencing homelessness to have their health needs met

Researchers also found that almost one in three homeless people have attended A&E in the last 12 months, making them 60 times more likely to be admitted than the public at large.

Responding to the findings, Bernard said that Homeless Link’s own research reaffirmed the use of A&E by people experiencing homelessness.

In 2014, the charity found that 35 per cent of homeless people had been to A&E, and just over a quarter had been admitted to hospital within six weeks. Bernard said that people experiencing homelessness faced barriers accessing primary care and are often forced to use A&E when their condition becomes acute.

Homeless Link also found that after being “patched up” in hospital and discharged, many participants had nowhere to go, making it more likely they would have to return to A&E after a short space of time.

Bernard added: “We need to break the cycle. Better local partnership working between health and homelessness specialists will help those experiencing homelessness to have their health needs met and address the health inequalities that they face.”

Dr Vibhu Paudyal, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham who co-authored the new research, urged GPs to make the registration of homeless people easier and said some people had been wrongly turned away by surgeries due to not having proof of address.

“This study reinforces the need to further expand and diversify specialist services available to the homeless population, particularly preventative services,” said Dr Paudyal. “Further work needs to be done to minimise fragmentation of services and to improve access and experiences around homeless use of mainstream general practices.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them
Renters angry at no-fault evictions, Renters Reform Bill delay and a lack of rent controls
RENTING

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'
Housing crisis

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?
Scottish first minister John Swinney
Housing

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell
Homelessness

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know