Homeless children presenting at hospital in increasing rates

Emergency departments at Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin is being used as a primary care service by some families.
Homeless children presenting at hospital in increasing rates

Homeless chidlren are twice as likely to require hospitalisation. File picture.

The number of homeless children presenting at Temple Street Children’s hospital in Dublin has increased with some families using its emergency department as a primary care service.

That’s according to Dr Ellen Crushel, head of the National Clinical Programme for Paediatrics.

Dr Crushel told the Public Housing Conference yesterday that homeless children are twice as likely to require hospitalisation and have a higher risk of obesity, STIs, abuse and scabies.

Homeless children are reported to have a higher risk of obesity, abuse and STIs. Picture: PA
Homeless children are reported to have a higher risk of obesity, abuse and STIs. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, over a fifth of the population have had a telephone or online medical appointment - five times higher than before the pandemic.

In a new report, the Medical Council is recommending a further expansion of 'telemedicine'.

The report notes how telemedicine is cheaper, limits the movement of patients, and helps to connect with disadvantaged communities.

However, Professor Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist in the Hermitage Clinic in Dublin, is not in favour of the practice.

"Patients who have experienced both, have said it is completely unsatisfactory. You can not establish an adequate therapeutic relationship when you are gazing at somebody on a screen. 

"In my own speciality in psychiatry, you lose a lot of the 'cues' that you would avail of when reaching an opinion and making a diagnosis of the patients," said Professor Casey. 

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