THE number of homeless people being admitted to York Hospital has risen by 38 per cent since 2013, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information request by the British Medical Association (BMA) shows that the number of homeless people being admitted increased from 83 patients in 2013 to 115 in 2018.

Overall attendances by homeless people across York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have also risen from 367 in 2015 to 515 in 2018 - up 40 per cent.

The BMA said the figures were for patients with no fixed address.

BMA consultant committee deputy chair, Dr Simon Walsh, said: “These figures are soul-destroying and show that the needs of homeless people continue to be ignored, and the impact on hospitals not understood.

“It will not come as a surprise to many doctors who see the harsh reality of homelessness in hospital emergency departments every day.

“These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg and the true figures are likely to be far higher.

“Community services have become overstretched, so more homeless people are overlooked or left to fend for themselves. When they are ill or in need, emergency departments become the net to catch them.

“Doctors and healthcare staff will continue to provide the best treatment they can but ultimately we need more resources made available in order to provide specialist help.”

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the link between housing and health is well documented.

She said: "Speaking with homeless people here in York I have found the evidence matches their experience.

“People who have been discharged back onto the streets, people sleeping rough with respiratory conditions, and the inadequacy of mental health and public health provision is a continual battle.

“It is vital that the health and housing units work together to prevent poor health and to address it when evident. We need compassion and common sense which is why we need the Housing First Project to be rolled out and extended quicker. I will be raising this latest data with Government on my return to Parliament.”

A spokesperson from York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The NHS cannot solve homelessness on its own and we work in partnership with other agencies to make sure homeless people have access to services.

“Organisations such as Changing Lives and Bed Ahead in York employ homeless liaison workers who see patients who are either at risk of becoming homeless on discharge, or are already homeless and offer support, advice and with the aim of reducing readmissions and A&E attendances to York Hospital.”

Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing and community safety at City of York Council, said council and partner services over the last two years had helped rough sleeping reduce in York.

He added: “We encourage people sleeping outside to come into our hostels with over 100 resettlement beds and up to 29 emergency beds. This is partly to avoid the risks of acquiring or worsening chronic illnesses and vulnerability to factors including the weather, mental health problems, substance or alcohol misuse.

“This year we have secured £400,000 extra funding for individual support for those sleeping rough. This includes support to access mental health and NHS services, the city’s high-quality substance misuse services and a hospital discharge scheme for single homeless people and rough sleepers.

“We are also investing in 57 new units of temporary accommodation for households waiting for permanent housing. This high-quality accommodation has space for training and counselling to help overcome and lessen the worry and disruption homelessness can bring.”

A spokesman for the homeless charity Hoping York said: “It is indeed the tip of the iceberg. Our homeless friends will often reluctantly tell us of their ailments and many times I have offered to take them straight to A&E. Sometimes they accept. Other times their reluctance leads to later visits where matters are even more serious. They suffer stoically until it becomes a crisis."