Homeless People Should Receive Better Treatment, Report Says

July 21, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. intensive (adj.) 
[in-ten-siv] – needing a lot of work, resources, or focus
Example: A heart attack patient receives intensive care at the hospital.

2. discharge (v.) [dis-chahrj– to allow a patient to leave the hospital
Example: The doctor discharged the patient who was feeling much better after the treatment.

3. prejudice (n.) [prej-uh-dis] – an unfair opinion made about a person or thing
Example: Many people have a prejudice against homeless persons, who are thought of as useless and lazy.

4. complex (adj.) [kuhm-pleks] – made up of many different parts that are connected to each other
Example: Homeless people suffer from complex problems that involve physical, mental, social, and emotional issues.

5. urgent (adj.) [ur-juhnt] – very important and needing immediate attention or help
Example: The emergency department treats urgent cases like gunshot wounds or heart attack.

Read the text below.

A government-commissioned report in the UK is putting pressure on National Health Service hospitals (NHS) to provide more intensive treatment to homeless patients.

According to the report by charity groups Homeless Link and St. Mungo’s, NHS public hospital care for the homeless costs five times more than the care for regular patients. This is because homeless patients have multiple health problems and keep getting re-admitted to hospitals.

The report advises NHS hospital staff to identify which patients are homeless and give them intensive medical care, instead of discharging them immediately. Hospital staffs are also advised to coordinate with organizations that provide housing options for the homeless.

Homeless Link’s Matt Harrison says homeless people are the ones most in need of medical treatment, but they receive the worst treatment. In the report, 57 homeless people were interviewed about their hospital experiences. Some reported not being allowed to enter the hospital and being discharged onto the streets without shoes.

Others said they avoid telling hospital staff about being homeless because they are afraid of prejudice.

Dr. Nigel Hewitt from London’s University College Hospital (UCH) says hospital staffs also feel uneasy. Hospital staffs are afraid of violence and the complex problems brought by homeless patients.

From experience, however, Dr. Hewitt learned hospital staffs can form relationships with homeless patients and better help these people when hospital staffs work as a team.  The UCH has already saved £100,000 by doing such method.

As the economy weakens in the UK, medical treatment of the homeless is expected to become an even more urgent financial issue.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think homeless people face a lot of prejudice or dislike from others?
·         Can you give ways in which homeless people can be helped?

Discussion B

·         Do you think hospitals in your country are very careful and intensive when treating patients?  Why or why not?
·         Is the attitude of hospital staff important for patients in the hospital? Please explain your answer.


July 21, 2012