Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

Rough sleepers who go to Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA) are getting help from a new service, aimed at ensuring they have a home to go to when their treatment is over.

The service, which started this week, means staff at QA will be on alert for patients who might not have a roof over their head when they leave hospital.

A specialist support worker is on duty seven days a week to look for solutions to their housing problems, so they don't have to go back to rough sleeping. The worker links them up to the services they need and works on a personalised plan for the future.

Support will also be offered to homeless patients who might want to discharge themselves from hospital, despite having nowhere to stay. Patients at risk of homelessness will also be offered help.

The project is led by Portsmouth City Council, working with other local councils and with local NHS organisations. It follows a successful bid by the city council for £25,000 of government funding, designed to help rough sleepers during the cold weather.

A support worker from the homeless charity Two Saints is on duty at the hospital from 10am to 6pm to provide the service.

The funding is for three months, but organisers of the project are exploring ways it could be extended. They are hoping it will provide information on how to improve care for patients experiencing homelessness, and reduce re-admission rates.

In the financial year 2018/19, 222 patients were admitted into the hospital whose address was recorded as "no fixed abode".

Cllr Darren Sanders, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "This is yet another example of how the council, working with partners, is helping people who happen to sleep rough. It builds on our homeless day service, our night shelters, our purchase of homes for homeless people to live in, and our ground-breaking work to help rough sleepers into settled homes using one-to-one support.

"We know that this type of comprehensive support works – for example, with people leaving prison. I look forward to this scheme stopping people who sleep rough ending up back on the street when they're discharged this winter."

Mark Cubbon, chief executive at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "As the largest employer in Portsmouth, we are committed to continuing to work in partnership with Portsmouth City Council and Two Saints to help those most in need, and we are incredibly proud to be supporting this new service here at QA."

The project is a joint initiative by councils and NHS organisations in the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight sustainability and transformation partnership, which encourages collaboration between public services.