The objective is to end the cycle of people leaving hospital to return to the streets and then being quickly readmitted to hospital.
Currently patients who are homeless in hospital are more than twice as likely to be readmitted to hospital in an emergency compared with patients with housing.
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.
These pilots in 17 areas – from London to Liverpool – 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.
People experiencing rough sleeping on average die 30 years earlier than the general population and the estimated number of those dying each year has risen by about 50% in less than a decade.
When figures began being collected in 2013, 70% of people who were homeless were being discharged to the streets rather than into supported schemes or back with families.
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, despite the pandemic, the pilot projects are already changing lives, reducing readmissions and helping those in need.
For example, the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Health and Care Partnership is working with Cornwall Council, Harbour Housing and Stay at Home to redesign out of hospital care services.
The partnership links accommodation with on-site appointment services, counselling and drug and alcohol support providing stability to those looking for housing and work.
Many of the pilot schemes are already making a real difference. In Oxford and Reading, for example, 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.
Combining these posts with resettlement homes helps increase the potential for recovery.
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.”
This £16 million is just one of the many investments in homelessness from across the government.
The Government has committed over £750 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year, further demonstrating the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping this Parliament and fully implement the Homelessness Reduction Act.
In addition, the NHS Long Term Plan includes £30 million extra over five years to meet the health needs of those on the streets or with no fixed place to live.
The government has promised to continue looking at ways to support people sleeping rough and help meet their physical and mental health needs to reduce this long-standing issue and help manage demand for NHS services.