Homeless hospital discharges increase

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Regional Hospital.
Camera IconGeraldton Regional Hospital. Credit: Supplied.

Last financial year, 44 people were discharged from Geraldton Hospital without a home to go to, it has emerged.

The number is higher than during the previous financial year, during which 38 people were discharged with no fixed address, and almost double the 2016-17 figures, when 23 left hospital without a permanent home.

The 44 discharges was the fourth-highest number in the 46-strong WA Country Health Service hospital network, behind Bunbury (69), Albany (59), and Kalgoorlie-Boulder (58).

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said Geraldton and other regional hospital staff offered support or referral to other agencies, depending on the health issues of the patients and other risk factors.

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She said agencies contacted included the Homelessness Advisory Service, mental health and/or drug and alcohol treatment services, and family and domestic violence response teams.

“If a person was identified as having no fixed address, the treating team would work with the patient and any relevant family members/carers to look at trying to find suitable accommodation before discharge,” the spokeswoman said.

“Referrals for services will be dependent on the needs and goals identified between the patient and health professional.”

The Geraldton discharge numbers were significantly lower than in the metropolitan health network, which included 888 people being discharged from Royal Perth Hospital without a fixed address in 2018-19.

The State Government data also shows homeless discharges happened less than five times in three years in Meekatharra, less than five times in three years in Kalbarri, and 31 times in the same period in Carnarvon.

According to separate data on inpatients, no one from Geraldton staying at a mental health facility has been discharged without a fixed address in the last three years.

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