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GPs set to prescribe heating to vulnerable patients

GPs set to prescribe heating to vulnerable patients

GPs and other healthcare professionals in one part of the country will be able to prescribe a heating plan to support patients at risk, which includes paying their bills.

Between November 2022 and March 2023, up to 150 people in the NHS Gloucestershire area will have their energy bills paid for through the Warm Home Prescription scheme for patients with cold-sensitive health conditions who are struggling to afford rising costs.

Patients with chronic lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, or emphysema are eligible for the scheme, which is piloted by the One Gloucestershire integrated care board. They must be over the age of 60 and struggling to pay their heating bill, or under the age of 60 and receiving free NHS prescriptions.

According to One Gloucestershire, this initiative could cut GP workload and reduce NHS spending on treating people experiencing real harm due to living in cold homes. 

Dr Matt Lipson, consumer insight lead at Energy Systems Catapult, which partly funds the scheme, said: ‘Living in cold homes puts millions with health conditions at risk of real harm.

‘It costs the NHS over £860 million each year and causes 10,000 deaths every winter. And it’s set to become an even bigger challenge this year as energy prices rise and household budgets fall.’

Apart from paying the heating bills, the new scheme also involves supporting people with further energy efficiency information and signposting to other relevant services that could help.

The first local trial of the scheme took place last winter in Gloucestershire. According to One Gloucestershire, this ‘practical solution’ had an ‘immediate positive impact’, and it made patients feel healthier, warmer, and less stressed about the bills. 

Recently, Pulse reported on GPs warning that some of their most vulnerable patients are not taking medicines because the cost-of-living crisis have left them unable to afford prescription costs.

Previously, one GP told Pulse his practice has forecasted a £50,000 increase in costs over the next year on the back of uncapped energy costs and rising prices for consumable items.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 23 November, 2022 4:39 pm

Unfortunately, I am afraid click-bait articles to intentionally wind up a negative response is not that helpful at this moment in time.

Paul Attwood 23 November, 2022 5:35 pm

Presumably that’s after the GP has checked out and serviced the boiler?

Once the prols hear about this they’re going to develop a cough and head to the GP. “I demand to have my heating paid for!”

Enjoy the pressure Gloucestershire GPs.

Scottish GP 23 November, 2022 9:01 pm

Maybe we should prescribe water to the thirsty.
FFS We used to build ships.

Mr Marvellous 24 November, 2022 7:59 am

Why on earth does a Doctor have to be involved in this?

David Banner 24 November, 2022 8:14 am

So the 55 year old who still smokes but doesn’t work due to COPD has his bills paid , but the 55year old who still works a low wage job despite his several non-chest medical conditions freezes.
Seems fair…….

Andrew Jackson 24 November, 2022 8:41 am

what we give patients access to continues to expand with no limits and our whole sense of role increasingly gets lost
we all know it is a disaster when we become the gatekeeper to cash: remember prescribing gluten free products?

Julia Visick 24 November, 2022 10:03 am

The Victorians found that improving public health drastically cut the mortality and morbidity of the population… if decent housing ( mould free), sensible insulated homes ( low energy needs), nutritional eating habits and good activity could be improved – over 50% of our workload would go leaving us to do a decent job of treating actual “illness”. However no Government invests in this as the time it needs to improve “results” is too long for a Ministers portfolio!
Sad but true – general practice will be more arduous as living conditions deteriorate….

Paul Thornton 24 November, 2022 12:24 pm

Has the Gloucestershire LMC agreed to GP participation in this healthwashing? (1), (2)

(1) Healthwashing
This is a practice in which something is made to appear more healthy than it really is, in order to appeal to people who are concerned about health issues.

(2) Healthwashing is a term used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the crusade for good health while engaging in practices that may be contributing to our poor health.

PS It would be really helpful if Pulse also provided links to the documentation upon which their articles are based.

Anonymous 30 January, 2023 8:51 am

It’s a no from me all the way.