Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the State must ensure that patients are discharged into safe and secure settings after reports that an 81 year old woman, who appeared to be homeless, was found wandering the streets of Dublin last night after being discharged from hospital.
Speaking this afternoon, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The reports that an elderly woman, who appeared to be homeless, was found wandering the streets of Dublin haven been discharged from hospital are worrying and distressing.
“For a number of years now many housing and homeless campaigners have been highlighting the issue of patients being discharged with ‘no fixed abode’ calling for the State to ensure that patients are discharged into safe and secure settings where their specific needs can be met.
“This is an issue which I have raised many times and before Christmas I submitted Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health on the matter.
“The response from the Minister and the HSE showed that in 2018, the most up to date figures, there were 377 patients discharged with “no fixed abode”.
“This is very worrying in itself, but even more so given it is up on the 2017 number which was 343.
“From data I have received from the HSE over the years the number of patients discharged into “no fixed abode’ since 2011 are as follows:
2011 – 226
2012 – 247
2013 – 232
2014 – 448
2015 – 435
2016 – 335
2017 – 343
2018 – 377
“These figures are shocking, but I know from speaking to experts that the numbers are much higher than that as many homeless people will give an old address or the address of a hostel where they are staying.
“The reality is that health needs have to be addressed in tandem with housing.
“We need a coordinated approach where people get the healthcare they need, the right supports when they exit the healthcare system, but also proper housing supports.
“You cannot treat someone’s health needs only to discharge them onto the street, inevitably their problems will recur and escalate because they do not have a roof over their head.”