Homeless people have been “dumped on the street in their hospital gowns” after being discharged, according to hostelworkers in Hull.
The claim was made in a survey which said the homeless faced “hostility and judgement” when they seek healthcare and are sometimes “treated like dirt” with staff assuming their symptoms are due to their addictions.
Healthwatch Hull, a local watchdog, spoke to 13 homeless people - around 14 per cent of the city’s rough sleepers - about their experiences - be it at a GP's, dentist's, hospital or walk-in-centre - as well as dozens of staff from William Booth Hostel, Emmaus and the Switch project.
One homeless person told how their support worker rang the NHS helpline 111, but their “erratic behaviour” was put down to addiction. “The worker then called 999 and I was admitted to Hull Royal (HRI) with pneumonia,” the report added.
Another, who used mental health services in Hull and Scunthorpe, said: “They talk to you like dirt - it makes you feel worse.”
One person said of their experience: "There's a stigma being homeless - people assume you are a tramp or a beggar or a druggie - no one asks why you are homeless."
Hostelworkers said many roughsleepers only go to hospital when the situation is “dire.”
And they were critical of the way people were discharged, saying aftercare was “very limited and often non-existent,” with care packages failing to materialise.
They added: “Clients have been dropped outside the centre and left, without any handover or paperwork. Quite often they will be dumped on the street in their hospital gowns.”
The report, which makes a number of recommendations, is due to be discussed by city councillors sat a scrutiny meeting on January 19.
Health commissioners said issues raised in the report were “disappointing as these are very vulnerable individuals who need extra support on discharge from hospital.”
Erica Daley, Director of Integrated Commissioning at Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said they were planning to pilot a new service in the Discharge Hub at HRI, bringing together key services for homeless people.
She said: “This new service will include training for staff, as well as ongoing support for homeless people with their housing needs and access to health services.
“Through this we will also look to proactively work with people who are accessing health services, but who we do not already know are homeless, and offer support to them too.”
She said they were working with homeless people on the project and welcomed others’ views too.
Mike Wright, Chief Nurse at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs HRI and Castle Hill Hospital, said they tried to provide the “best possible care” for all patients, regardless of whether they had a home.
He stressed that the report discussed care at hospitals around the region and did not specify which hospital had discharged patients in their hospital gowns.
He added: “Our Patient Experience Team has received no record of any such incident happening at any time.
“With no evidence to support this claim, we are unable to comment further.
“Had an incident of this nature occurred involving one of our patients, we would have expected the relevant staff working in hostels to follow safeguarding procedure by raising their concerns directly with us to ensure the matter was fully investigated.”
Mr Wright also said staff regularly collected toiletries and clothing for the homeless, with the public's help.