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GPs should identify patients who live in cold homes, says NICE

GPs should take steps to identify patients who live in cold homes, put this information in their records and ‘take action where necessary’, NICE has said.

NICE has proposed that GPs and other health or social care professionals should provide patients  – including those from vulnerable groups and their informal carers – with information about the potential problems associated with living in a cold home,.

The draft guidance is aimed at reducing preventable, excess winter death rates and pressure on health and social care services, and to tackle ‘fuel poverty’ and the risk of being disconnected from gas and electricity supplies.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of NICE’s Centre for Public Health, said: ‘Services to ensure people are warm enough at home already exist, but they are patchy across the country, and this lack of consistency makes it very difficult for professionals to know what support is available locally and how to get help for those who need it.’

‘This draft guideline covers people who are vulnerable to the cold, including those over 65, people with respiratory conditions such as children with asthma, and people with cardiovascular conditions.’

The draft guidance also recommends that health and wellbeing boards commission a ‘referral and co-ordination service’ to help vulnerable people in cold homes.