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08.45 22 Jan 2019


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One of the country's main children's hospitals says there has been a 29% increase in the number of patients being discharged into homelessness.

Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin has said 842 children who attended its Emergency Department last year were living in emergency accommodation or had no fixed address.

A quarter of them (26%) were less than one year old.

Last year's figure compares to 651 children discharged with no fixed address in 2017.

In 2018, a majority of children (85%) presented with medical complaints such as high temperatures, chest infections, seizures, vomiting or asthma.

However, 23% presented with trauma such as hand and arm injuries, head lacerations, burns and self-harm.

October to December alone saw 260 children without a fixed address attending the hospital's Emergency Department.

"Shameful"

Anne Marie Jones, Head Medical Social Worker at Temple Street, called the situation 'shameful'.

She said: "When these children leave our ED, they stay in temporary accommodation with cramped conditions and no appropriate cooking, washing or play facilities. 

"This results in accidents or traumas that wouldn’t normally happen if these families were housed in a family home.” 

Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr Ike Okafor, meanwhile, said that children's recovery is also affected by their living conditions.

He noted: "There are children where you do what you can do in hospital, and then you hope they'll go home and recover.

"But these accommodations aren't conducive for recovery for some of the conditions - so they're not the ideal."

Dr Okaford added: "We had a case in 2018, where a child who required surgery attended the Temple Street ED with their siblings, parents and extended family. This family had nowhere else to go until accommodation was found at 11pm. 

"We have also looked after a young person who was assaulted on his way to emergency homeless accommodation." 

The most recent official homeless figures show there were 3,811 children in emergency accommodation in November.


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