There were 842 children discharged from a Dublin hospital last year who had no fixed home address, it has emerged.
The children had attended Temple Street Hospital’s emergency department and it was likely they were discharged into emergency accommodation.
The hospital says the 842 children compared to 651 in 2017 and represented a 29% increase.
Most of these children (85%) presented with a range of medical complaints including abdominal pain, high temperatures, chest infections, asthma, seizures, and vomiting.
Nearly a quarter (23%) had presented with hand and arm injuries, head lacerations, burns, and self-harm.
The hospital’s lead emergency medicine consultant, Ike Okafor, said they saw 260 homeless children between October to December 2018.
“Their presentations are varied and complex but in the majority, they stem from the fact that these children are living in completely unsuitable, cramped, and temporary accommodation,” said Dr Okafor.
He said he and his team had looked after children with no fixed home address who had cystic fibrosis, neurological disorders, severe autism, and significant developmental delays.
“We had a case in 2018 where a child who required surgery attended the Temple Street ED with their siblings, parents, and extended family,” said Dr Okafor.
“This family had nowhere to go until accommodation was found at 11pm.”
Dr Okafor said they had also looked after a young person who was assaulted on his way to emergency homeless accommodation.
“The situation is shameful,” said the hospital’s head medical social worker, Anne Marie Jones.
“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.
The hospital, together with charities and support agencies that advocate for and assist families entering into and experiencing homelessness, is calling for action to end family homelessness.