A ‘Boilers on Prescription’ project, run by North East-based housing firm Gentoo Group and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), reported a 60% reduction in the number of GP appointments needed by patients taking part in the scheme, after it investigated the impact of domestic thermal efficiency works on the health and wellbeing of NHS patients.
NHS patients suffering from respiratory diseases that are exacerbated by the cold, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), were referred onto the scheme by the CCG and received improvements to their home such as new energy efficient boilers, double glazing and insulation totalling on average £5,000 per property.
A second report from a separate but similar study, ‘Warm Homes for Health’, which Gentoo has been running alongside its Boilers on Prescription trial in partnership with Bangor University and Nottingham City Homes, also highlights the strong link between thermal interventions in homes and the improved physical and mental health status of occupants, as well as the occupants’ increased ability to heat their homes.
The report, published by Bangor University, highlights a 5% improvement in self-rated health status, a 4% reduction in anxiety, a £20,000 saving to the NHS across 274 households over a 6-month period and a 37% reduction in the number of households in fuel poverty.
Gentoo Group’s Paul Burns, who has overseen both research projects, said: “The findings to date for both Gentoo’s Boiler on Prescription and Warm Homes for Health research projects demonstrate that improving resilience to fuel poverty can deliver positive benefits to the people involved and measurable reductions in demand to all areas of the National Health Service. We’re particularly proud of the fact our work has caught the imagination of other organisations.”
Tim Ballard, Vice-Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The link between energy efficiency measures that improve the quality of homes or buildings and the health impacts such measures generate is a new field of investigation but a growing body of evidence supports the claims that energy efficiency measures have positive impacts on the health of some of the most vulnerable of our patients. We welcome these findings especially in relation to patient wellbeing and the potential impact on GP workload.”