The fire service is to carry out hundreds of thousands of health checks at the same time as carrying out regular safety checks in people’s homes, the head of the NHS in England has confirmed.
Under the new scheme, outlined by NHS chiefs last month, firefighters will check for trip and fall hazards, remind people to get their flu vaccinations and make sure homes are kept warm in winter.
According to the Independent on Sunday, Public Health England is funding pilots in Manchester, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire to test whether the visits can reduce A&E admissions and even reduce the number of winter deaths.
Speaking to the paper, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the scheme was ‘a golden opportunity’ for the NHS to ‘piggyback’ off the fire service’s 670,000 home-safety visits carried out each year, ‘to help prevent falls, broken hips and hospital admissions’.
It comes after NICE public health guidance called on GP practices to check at least once a year whether their elderly or vulnerable patients are at risk from living in a cold home and, where needed, refer them for help.