Fund to end cycle of homelessness and hospital readmissions

People experiencing homelessness in England are to be supported through pilot projects to provide temporary accommodation, care and support.

Backed by £16 million, the objective of the scheme is to end the cycle of people leaving hospital to return to the streets and then being quickly readmitted to hospital.

Patients who are homeless in hospital are currently more than twice as likely to be readmitted to hospital in an emergency compared with patients with housing.

In fact, a study of nearly 3,000 homeless patients discharged after an emergency admission from 78 hospitals between 2013 and 2016 revealed almost 2,000 were readmitted within a year, at almost double the rate of those with homes to go to.

The pilots in 17 areas will offer improved services to help some of the most vulnerable members of society with basic needs such as housing, employment and drug cessation, that can help them get back on their feet in the long term.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough - extra support will ensure those who do not have a home can get the help they need, recover more quickly and end the cycle of readmission to hospital.

“This government has proven its commitment to helping people experiencing homelessness throughout this pandemic, providing temporary accommodation and priority vaccines. These pilot schemes will show how much more effective care can be when it’s integrated and the best examples will be taken forward to help tackle homelessness across the country.”

Funding was allocated from the shared outcomes fund in 2019 and the pilot projects are already changing lives, reducing readmissions and helping those in need. Many of the pilot schemes are already making a real difference. For example, in Oxford and Reading, delayed discharges from mental health hospitals have fallen from 22 in May to zero in August, for the first time. By identifying a person’s individual needs there is a far greater chance of finding the right support.

Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: “By bridging the gaps between hospitals and homes these support networks are breaking the link between homelessness and multiple repeat hospitalisations. We know there is more to do and we are committed to improving the lives of people sleeping rough with support that makes a real difference not only to the individual but their families, communities and the NHS.”

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