842 children who were discharged from Temple Street hospital last year had no fixed address, with many returning to emergency accommodation. 26% of those children were less than one years of age.
The figure is an increase of 29% from 2017, when a total of 651 children were discharged from the emergency department.
Temple Street A&E consultant Dr Ike Okafor said: “In October to December 2018 alone, we saw 260 of these children. 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.”
He added: “We had a case in 2018 where a child who required surgery attended the Temple Street with their siblings, parents and extended family. This family had nowhere else to go until accommodation was found at 11 pm.”
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The majority of children who attended the emergency department presented with abdominal pain, temperature, seizures, vomiting and asthma. 23% of those children had suffered head lacerations, self-harm and burns. Dr Okafor also said that he had treated children with “cystic fibrosis, neurological disorders, severe autism and children with significant developmental delays. We have also looked after a young person who was assaulted on his way to emergency homeless accommodation.”
Anne Marie Jones, the head medical social worker at Temple Street Hospital, said that the homeless situation is “shameful”, adding “when these children leave our emergency department 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.”
Temple Street has called for an end to the homeless crisis through a campaign with other charities and support groups. The latest figures released by the Department of Housing showed that in November 2018, 6,157 adults and 3,811 children were homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Ireland.