A new trial in Sunderland has been taking place that involves family doctors prescribing double glazing, insulation and boilers to some of the most vulnerable patients in the NHS – and it seems as though it’s been hugely successful, with A&E visits down by 30 per cent and emergency admissions falling by 25 per cent.
Run by housing firm Gentoo Group and the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Boilers on Prescription scheme has been in operation for the last year and a half, designed to help people who are living in cold and damp homes. The CCG has been referring patients with respiratory diseases that get worse in cold weather (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), with people then receiving home improvements to a total value of £5,000.
Gentoo has also been running a separate study alongside Nottingham City Homes and Bangor University to highlight the link between improved health (both physical and mental) and thermal interventions in properties. The report revealed a five per cent boost in self-rated health status, a four per cent drop in anxiety, a 37 per cent fall in the number of households in fuel poverty and £20,000 NHS savings across 228 houses over six months.
Commenting on the results, director of policy at the UK Green Building Council John Alker said: “The levels of ill health and even deaths, in which cold, damp homes play a contributing factor is truly shocking. The results from this study demonstrate the benefits of home retrofit, not just in saving carbon and saving money, but as a form of preventative medicine for vulnerable householders. The challenge now is to build on this initiative and use it to inform the way in which we value and deliver home energy efficiency nationally.”
Recent research from charity Age UK revealed that it’s essential people over the age of 65 keep themselves as warm as they can, especially during the winter months. In the last 60 years, there have been some 2.5 million preventable deaths because of the cold, analysis by the organisation shows – and poorly insulated homes are at the heart of the problem.
The charity is now urging the government to amend its energy-efficiency initiatives to ensure older people everywhere live in warm homes. Apparently, one older person will die every seven minutes during the winter thanks to cold weather – so schemes like the Boilers on Prescription campaign certainly seem to have their place.
There are many ways you can make your home more energy-efficient, and therefore warmer. Insulating the roof, loft, floors, walls, pipes and radiators is advisable – and you should also make sure your heating system is both efficient and cost-effective. Replacing your boiler with a more efficient model could be a great idea.
In the meantime, if your boiler is need of a service or maintenance, call out Hull boiler repairs company Home Services Assistance to see how we can help.