Hospital care and costs for homeless people
© Royal College of Physicians 2016. All rights reserved. The national picture of the comparative costs and diagnoses of hospitalised homeless patients are examined using the 'no fixed abode' flag in English hospital statistics. Comparable studies sample patients in single cities, eg New York and Toronto. The most common diagnosis is substance misuse; the share of homeless NHS patients with this diagnosis is rising, and now equals that found in North American cities. About half of the cost of homeless patients relates to diagnoses of mental illness, although these comprise a much smaller share of homeless patients than in North America. Hospital costs for homeless patients-both total and per admission-have fallen significantly in recent years, primarily because of fewer admissions and shorter lengths of stay for mentally ill patients. Aims to reduce NHS costs at the level of individual institutions have often shaped policy. Broader policy to prevent and reduce homelessness offers substantial long-term reductions in the cost of chronic care.