More than 70 per cent of homeless people are discharged from hospital straight back onto the streets, often without their housing or underlying health problems addressed, a new report indicates.
This in the long run is costing the NHS more money, as many homeless are readmitted to hospital shortly after leaving.
The report, 'Improving hospital admission and discharge for people who are homeless' commissioned by the Department of Health and published by Homeless Link and St Mungo's draws together direct experiences of homeless clients and staff and provides analysis of the cost savings the NHS and wider partners can make when effective practice is put in place.
Speaking about the report, minister for care services, Paul Burstow, said:
"We commissioned this report to expose poor practice and share best practice. What it reveals is too many hospitals simply discharging homeless people back to the streets. Patching a person up and sending them out without a plan makes no sense.
"The good news is the report shows that there are hospitals doing brilliant work to join up care and support and reduce the cycle of revolving door admissions. I am challenging the rest of the NHS to learn from the best and make it the norm."
Named as an example of best practice in the report, University College Hospital follows the London Pathway approach providing a dedicated team that works with homeless patients.
They have shown that by personalising services to the needs of a homeless person and working with services in the community they are able to make cost savings of £100,000.
Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link, called the findings in the report "extremely disappointing".
"Failing to meet homeless people's health and housing needs is costly to individuals, but also to the NHS as life on the streets means they continue to be readmitted to hospital," he said.
Charles Fraser, chief executive of St Mungo's called on the hospital sector to "improve and improve quickly".
In doing so he stressed that it is better facilities in the community that will ultimately help hospitals "get their discharge practice right".