Hospital visits wasting money

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Thousands of pounds of NHS money is being wasted each year treating homeless people in accident and emergency departments when it would be cheaper and more effective to send them to GPs.

Research published today by the homeless charity Shelter estimates that each inappropriate visit to an A&E department costs the NHS three times the cost of a visit to a GP. Nearly six out of ten visits by the homeless were inappropriate, compared with 20 and 25 per cent for the general population.

The homeless often find it more difficult to be registered with a family doctor and the charity is calling for the system to be reformed so that homeless people are not excluded. Glenda Cooper