Life expectancy for homeless is just 47, academic’s study shows

HOMELESS people die 30 years younger than the national average and have an average life span of just 47, according to a new study by an academic at Sheffield University.

The work has been described as the “most comprehensive study ever” on the cause of death in people living rough, in hostels and in night shelters.

Following the research, Crisis – the national charity for homeless people, which commissioned the study – has called for current restructuring within the NHS to take into account the needs of people living on the streets.

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Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy said: “Homeless people are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and it is clear that, despite significant investment in the NHS, they are not getting the help they need to address their health issues.

“The Government and health services must do more to improve the health of single homeless people and ensure they can access mainstream and specialist services.”

The report, entitled Homelessness kills: a study of the mortality of homeless people in England in the 21st century, was carried out by Dr Bethan Thomas from Sheffield University’s geography department.

She analysed more than 1,700 deaths in England between 2001 and 2009, to estimate the average age of death not just for rough sleepers, as previous studies have, but for the wider homeless population, including those who live in homeless hostels.

It revealed the average age of death in the homeless population is just 47, compared to 77 for the general population. Between the ages of 35 and 44, homeless people are five to six times more likely to die than people living in houses of the same age.

Dr Thomas’s research highlights that drug and alcohol abuse are particularly common causes of death amongst the homeless population, accounting for more than a third of all deaths.

Homeless people, she found, are seven times more likely to die from alcohol-related diseases and 20 times more likely to die from drugs misuse.