Homeless Link responds to Channel 4 report on homeless deaths

Monday, 11 March 2019 - 8:00pm

Today, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism released figures that revealed almost 800 people who are homeless have died over the last 18 months, which is an average of 11 every week. The report also shows that a third (30%) of the homeless deaths were from treatable conditions that could have improved with the right medical care. 

Many other deaths in the study, beyond that third, were from causes like suicide and homicide.

Responding Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said: “These figures bring to light the shocking inequalities that people who experience homelessness face. People are dying on our streets and a significant number of them are dying from treatable or preventable health conditions.

“We must address the fact that homelessness is a key health inequality and one of the causes of premature death. People who are experiencing homelessness struggle to access our health services. Core services are often too exclusionary or inflexible for people who are homeless with multiple and complex needs. This means people aren’t able to access help when they need it, instead being forced to use A&E to “patch up” their conditions before being discharged back to the streets. Services need to be accessible, for example by expanding walk-in primary care clinics or offering longer GP appointment times to deal with people experiencing multiple needs. We also need to expand specialist health services for people who are homeless to stop people falling through the gaps.

“This research also highlights the other causes of death that people who are homeless are more likely to experience. Research shows that people who are homeless are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population and 17 times more likely to be the victims of violence.

 “Homeless Link is calling on the Government in its upcoming Prevention Green Paper to focus on addressing these inequalities, start to tackle the structural causes of homelessness, and make sure everyone has an affordable, healthy and safe place to call home and the support they need to keep it.”