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QNI says emergency nurses have vital role in supporting homeless people

King’s Fund report reveals homeless hospital admissions in England more than doubled in past seven years
Image shows homeless man presenting at a hospital emergency department

Kings Fund report reveals homeless hospital admissions in England more than doubled in past seven years and emergency nurses could play a vital role in reducing this figure

Emergency department (ED) nurses can give vital support to homeless people, according to a senior nurse leader.

The comments follow a report from the independent think tank The Kings Fund, which revealed that homeless admissions to hospitals in England has more than doubled in the past seven years .

The Kings Fund

King’s Fund report reveals homeless hospital admissions in England more than doubled in past seven years and emergency nurses could play a vital role in reducing this figure


Emergency nurses can help identify people experiencing homelessness early on and refer them to ​​​​​the local authority under the statutory duty to refer. Picture: Alamy

Emergency department (ED) nurses can give vital support to homeless people, according to a senior nurse leader.

The comments follow a report from the independent think tank The King’s Fund, which revealed that homeless admissions to hospitals in England has more than doubled in the past seven years.

The King’s Fund analysis, found that 27,883 homeless people were admitted to hospital in England in 2018-2019. This compares to 12,125 people in 2013-2014.

Responding to the data Samantha Dorney-Smith, nurse project lead of the Queen’s Nursing Institute's homeless health programme, said: ‘ED nurses can make a massive difference to people experiencing homelessness by identifying their homelessness early on, and referring all people identified to the local authority under the statutory duty to refer.’

Nurses should ensure thorough patient assessment and correct community service referrals 


Samantha Dorney-Smith

Ms Dorney-Smith added that nurses can make a difference for people experiencing homelessness by carrying out thorough assessments and ensuring that the patient is referred to the correct community services.

‘This well help stop the revolving door and prevent the early death rates in this group,’ she said.

According to the Office for National Statistics the average life expectancy for a homeless man is 45 years and 43 years for a homeless woman in England and Wales.

This is more than 30 years below the average life expectancy among the general population.

The King’s Fund report also revealed that homeless people are often unable to access services for treatment due to NHS staff’s misbelief that a patient must have a home address to register for GP services. Challenges to accessing primary care can lead to hospital treatment.

Areas of concern for emergency nursing staff 

The King’s Fund report identified areas that healthcare staff need to be aware of when caring for homeless patients. They include:

  • Ensuring hospital staff connect patients experiencing homelessness to community health services, mental health services, social care and housing support.
  • Ensuring staff who are in contact with people experiencing homelessness receive specialist training.

Related material

The King's Fund – Delivering health and care for people who sleep rough. Going above and beyond


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