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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Hospital discharge - another response

May 21 2009
A reader poses a tricky question: how do you discharge Eastern European patients who have no alternative to the street? Dear Editor,

I am writing to request information about how to plan appropriate discharges for homeless people who are in hospital. (Letters, The Pavement 28, 29, 30) I read with interest the Department of Health document that you put on your website [in response to the letter of Lisa Grey in Issue 28], but was dismayed to find that it only dealt with those homeless people who are eligible to be housed by their local authority.

I currently have a Latvian, a Polish citizen and a Lithuanian as in-patients in the hospital where I work, and I am working, with two more Lithuanians and three more Polish people who also have chronic health problems. All are homeless, and none are eligible to be housed by the local authority, because they are A8s. Because of the nature of their illness, we are unable to discharge the in-patients, because they would have to go straight back out onto the streets. However, they are all fit for discharge, and are currently ‘bed-blocking', at a cost of approximately £300 per night, when they could continue treatment on an out-patient basis. They are aware of this cost, and feel very embarrassed by the situation.

Although the ward staff understand, in theory, that these patients cannot go back onto the streets, they resent the fact that the beds are not being properly used. Money aside, this is a horrible situation for all concerned, and I would hugely welcome any advice as to what can be done for patients such as these.

A Case Worker in an East London hospital

Full name provided

Dear 'Case Worker',

Thank you for your letter, and we'll get looking for answers. We're still awaiting comment from those who produced the guidelines, but we think this is an interesting story, so will get what answers there are in the next issue.

Editor
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