Discharged patients have no home

PATIENTS are being discharged from Ipswich Hospital without having anywhere to live, it emerged today.

PATIENTS are being discharged from Ipswich Hospital without having anywhere to live, it emerged today.

During the last financial year at least 17 people with no fixed abode left the hospital, and three of those did not even have a carer or relative listed as a next of kin on the hospital's records.

The information emerged following a Freedom of Information request to all hospitals from the Conservative Party.

Ipswich Hospital's data showed 12 people were discharged with no fixed abode in 2003/04, five in 2004/05, five in 2005/06, six in 2006/07 and 17 in 2007/08.

Upon discharge the hospital does not list a “no fixed abode” option so the figures only include cases where a variation of the term has been written into the free text part of its system.

A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital said: "We endeavour to make sure that every patient has somewhere safe to go before they are discharged.

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“Where people are listed as having no fixed abode, or being in unstable housing, the hospital has a policy to follow.

“This policy has been put together with local councils with patient welfare at the forefront.

“Steps taken by the hospital include us contacting the housing authority and having housing officers come into the trust, directing patients to where housing advice can be found and/or contacting the patient's relative or carer.

“We certainly wouldn't discharge patients if they were in a vulnerable position and had nowhere to go although there are some cases where the patient, even though they have no fixed abode, may wish to leave and decline help."

Have you or a loved one left hospital with nowhere to go? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.