It is estimated that currently 70% of homeless people are discharged from hospital back onto the street without their health and housing problems being properly addressed.
The funding pot will support voluntary organisations to work with the NHS and local authorities to create services to ensure that homeless people receive the best possible support and care after leaving hospital.
The £10 million funding will also be used to ensure better intermediate care is available after discharge - vital for recovering from health problems such as TB.
Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said:
Homeless people are too often discharged back onto the street without their problems being properly addressed. This is damaging to their health and increases NHS costs through ‘revolving door’ admissions.
We are making £10 million available to the voluntary organisations to help make sure homeless people get the support that they need when they leave hospital.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:
This country has some of the strongest protections against homelessness in the world, but there is always more to do. That is why we are working right across Government to make sure that every contact counts.
Backed by £470 million Government investment in homelessness prevention, today’s funding will ensure vulnerable people are put in touch with the right help early on, getting their lives back on track, saving the need for repeat treatment.
Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said:
This investment is fantastic news and will go a long way in addressing a real issue around the way the NHS deals with homeless people leaving hospital. Patching people up and sending them back out to the streets where their problems will recur only leads to readmission and continued problems.
This issue has existed for too long. We hope this investment will be the catalyst for hospitals, councils and charities to work together to stop this cycle of homelessness, poor health and readmission once and for all.
Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said:
This is fantastic news. The ill-health of homeless people is extreme and disproportionate, and the government’s very clear commitment to addressing that is enormously welcome.
Recent history has shown that targeting is the most effective way of helping homeless people. We very much look forward to working closely with our partners in local government and the local NHS, as well as with the Department of Health, to turn this announcement into a reality which will transform people’s lives.
Homeless people attend A&E six times more than people with a home and are admitted to hospital four times as often. The cost of treating them in hospital is eight times higher than average at £85 million.
NHS England will be working with local commissioners to make sure the projects are sustainable into the future. An application process has been launched for voluntary sector organisations to bid for funding.
Case study: Liverpool Royal Hospital
The specialist nurse team at Liverpool Royal Hospital have created a protocol on discharge of homeless patients, which places multi-agency working at its heart, involving the local authority, the hospital and voluntary sector agencies, along with a local specialist GP service.
A homeless outreach worker is based in the hospital so that if a patient presents with a homelessness issue, this is picked up on admission.
Staff are trained to ask certain questions which might reveal that the patient is homeless or living in a local housing project.
The outreach worker contacts the patients and works with local agencies to find housing on discharge.
Follow up healthcare is enhanced by a new treatment room, funded by the PCT, which ensures that people care access health services in an environment and time they are comfortable with.