As part of the Warm Home Prescription pilot, Doctors are now prescribing help with heating costs to improve the most vulnerable patients around certain parts of the UK.
Trialled between December 2021 and March 2022, 28 low-income, vulnerable patients received £647 towards their energy bills in an attempt to reduce health conditions worsening during the colder months.
Due to its success, and saving the NHS £857 million a year, the trial has now expanded to 150 homes in Gloucestershire and to 1,000 homes in Aberdeenshire and Teeside.
The BRE report
A report by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) reported that poor housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion each year.
Finding and prioritizing hazards as ‘category 1’, excess cold was the primary hazard, with 836,000 people being admitted to hospital every year due to the effects of cold weather. This costs the NHS £857 million.
To curb this cost to the NHS and to help the most vulnerable, Doctors prescribed heating, giving money to patients to help with their energy costs. It’s worth noting that these figures were based on energy bills before the cost-of-living crisis began.
The BRE report goes on to state that if £6 billion were to be invested in mitigating the hazard of excess cold, within 7 years, there would be savings of £15.3 billion each year.
Personal experience with the heating prescription
The BBC reported Michelle Davis’s experience during the trial. Michelle is a mother of two, who is disabled and on benefits. She took part in the trial and was thrilled with the outcome.
The BBC states that Ms Davis spent most of winter 2020 in bed, trying to keep warm to prevent worsening health conditions. But unfortunately, she ended up in hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy.
Describing how she felt, she states: ‘I tend to seize up (…) my joints ache and my bones are like hot pokers.’ (BBC, 2022)
However, winter 2021 was much more positive, thanks to her being able to afford heating:
‘You’re not stuck in bed, you’re not going to hospital, my children were able to have a life, they were able to go out and play and get cold.’ (BBC, 2022)
Suffering for non-trialled patients
Whilst Ms Davis reaped the health benefits of heating her home, the 2,000 patients who did not do the trial, but had similar health conditions to Michelle, fell very ill or needed emergency hospital treatment. This cost local NHS services approximately £6 million.
From these figures, it’s clear that the Warm Home Prescription pilot has certainly had its benefits.
Whilst this isn’t a nationwide service yet available, it certainly sheds light on the importance of a well-functioning central heating system, especially during the winter months.
How Swale Heating can help
As always, it’s important to have a central heating system that works at optimal performance.
To ensure that your boiler is properly and safely maintained, you can sign up to one of our boiler cover or service plans. By regularly servicing your boiler, you can be safe in the knowledge that it is working to its full capacity.
If there are any issues, these will be flagged, which can then be resolved quickly to ensure that any issues don’t worsen. If any problems with your boiler are left unnoticed, this can become extremely costly and inconvenient. Read about our boiler cover and service plans here.
You can also get a free, no obligation one quote for a new boiler here, or feel free to call us on 0800 731 3344.
Swale Heating are specialists in central heating system repair, maintenance and installation, including renewables and gas systems. Rely on us to keep you warm.