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Clutching morphine and sheltering in a bus stop: the NHS patients sent from hospital to the street

Gripping a bag of morphine handed to him by hospital staff, Antonio sheltered at a bus stop, cold and shivering, as he tried to work out what to do.

It was three days after undergoing gruelling surgery to remove his testicular cancer and the 36-year-old had been discharged from NHS care with nowhere to go.

He was clutching a referral letter for the council’s housing team, given to him by hospital staff. When he arrived at the council office, he explained he had been homeless for the past few months – but was told they could not house him.

“They asked me: ‘If you are in so much pain and trouble, why did they send you here?’ and I didn’t know what to say,” Antonio, whose name has been changed, tells The Independent. He was given a piece of paper with a phone number on it and told to call the next day.

It was now late in the afternoon and the Salvation Army’s homeless day centre, where he would usually go for help, was closed. He had no option but to turn around and ready himself for a night on the streets.

Antonio’s story is, tragically, not unique. He is one of thousands of people across England who have been discharged from NHS hospitals into homelessness in recent years, many while still battling serious health conditions.

Data obtained by The Independent, in collaboration with the Salvation Army, shows at least 4,200 people were discharged from wards to “no fixed abode” in 2022/23.

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Source: The Independent, 17 March 2024


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