A PILOT scheme to help Sunderland patients heat their homes on the cheap is keeping them away from the doctor’s this winter, bosses say.
The first set of results for Gentoo’s “Boiler on Prescription” initiative, where energy saving measures have been installed to the homes of NHS patients, have shown a 28 per cent reduction in the number of GP appointments and a 33 per cent reduction in outpatient appointments over the first six months.
In comparison, a control group with similar health problems showed an increase in GP attendances over the period of time.
Measures include replacing single glazed windows with double glazing, putting in cavity wall insulation and installing energy efficient boilers.
So far Gentoo has discovered that households have reduced their gas consumption by up to 36 per cent and are saving up to £30 on their energy bill every month.
The properties within the pilot were given an energy performance assessment before and after the energy saving measures were installed, while their Energy Performance Certificate ratings have moved from a G Rating to a D Rating.
Sunderland couple of Margaret and John Boulton, of Hendon, are two people that have been helped with energy saving measures on prescription from Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) after John was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Margaret said: “If anything good was to come from my husband suffering from COPD, then it’s this scheme.
“We now have a home with a new efficient gas central heating system. We’re able to heat the whole house for the first time in God knows how long, it’s unbelievable. We’re so grateful John still has bad turns when he spends time outdoors in the cold, damp air. But in the house it’s a totally different story now.
“By this time last year he had been into hospital five or six times – he was really poorly and we had a terrible Christmas.
“So far this year – touch wood – he’s not been in hospital once and his health is generally so much better.”
Margaret added: “We didn’t have a gas supply coming into the house originally, so we weren’t paying out anything on gas.
“Everything was electric. We were shelling out over £40 per week on our electricity key and now it’s more like £15 - £20.
“Overall we’re definitely saving money. I know this because I’ve been able to put more money aside for food shopping!”
Dave Gallagher, chief officer at Sunderland CCG, said: “Intuitively, it makes sense that improving people’s living environment, especially targeting this to people who have pulmonary disease will improve their health and well-being and reduce their demand on health services.”