The scheme will now be expanded across 1,150 homes.NHS-prescribes-warmth-respiratory-patients-pays-energy-bills
Patients with respiratory conditions have had their energy bills paid for by the NHS under a new pilot scheme to prevent them from getting ill from cold and needing hospital treatment.
The Warm Home Prescription pilot paid for the heating costs of 28 low-income patients to prevent them needing to go to hospital if their condition worsened.
Energy costs have soared during the cost of living crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which is putting further pressure on prices.
The scheme is now being expanded to 1,150 homes, after the trial, backed by NHS Gloucestershire from December 2021 to March 2022 achieved such good results that it will be expanded to 150 homes across Gloucestershire alongside around 1,000 in Aberdeenshire and Teesside.
Dr Matt Lipson, who helped design the pilot, backed by Energy Systems Catapult, said that the programme could reduce pressure on the NHS.
“If we buy the energy people need but can’t afford, they can keep warm at home and stay out of hospital. That would target support to where it’s needed, save money overall and take pressure off the health service,” he said.
“The NHS were telling us they were seeing a benefit much more quickly than pills and potions,” he added. “It was taking days, not weeks and months.”
Over 2,000 patients not on the trial but with similar conditions in Gloucestershire fell seriously ill or needed emergency hospital care, costing local NHS services an estimated £6m.
Dr Hein La Roux, whose surgery in Churchdown, just outside Gloucester, took part, told the BBC: “Usually we wait until people get sick and then go out and see them, or worse they end up in hospital. But it’s actually saved a lot of money for other services and also saved our workload.”
“It was just a fantastic feeling to know you’re doing your job properly rather than going to see sick people,” he added.