The Warm Home Prescription has recently concluded a successful trial where low-income patients have had their home heating paid for by the taxpayer. The goal of doing this is to reduce the risk of these patients being admitted to the hospital. Which may be likely if the patient was to become more ill due to a cold home.
With the current cost of living crisis and rocketing energy bills, many of those on low incomes are choosing to forgo heating and living in colder homes. This can potentially exacerbate their condition and lead to hospital admission.
The trial was first piloted by Gloucestershire NHS last winter to determine if helping patients heat their homes in the winter months would reduce the need for hospital care for these patients. It was such a success, the trial is now being expanded to 1,150 homes across England, Scotland and Wales. Currently, there is no Warm Home Prescription trial in Northern Ireland.
At least 10,000 people die each year due to a cold home and it is hoped that the trial will determine if it is more cost-effective overall to help pay the heating costs of vulnerable people than it is to pay for their health care if they fall ill – saving the NHS money and reducing pressure on frontline staff.
Who is paying for the Warm Home Prescription scheme?
Taxpayers are paying for the warm home prescription.
However, according to a BRE report from late 2021, the costliest issue for the NHS (£857 million p/a) is poor quality housing leading to excess cold. Nearly 840,000 hazards were reported in the year of the report and if these hazards were fixed, the annual savings to society (not just the NHS) could top over £15 billion.
If the trial proves to be a success it could save the taxpayer considerably each year.
How can I apply for a Warm Home Prescription?
You cannot actively apply for a Warm Home Prescription and if applicable you will be contacted by a Health worker.
Health and care teams, including social prescribers, district nurses and complex care teams, supported by GPs, will work together to identify eligible patients and prescribe them a warm home
There are a number of criteria for receiving the prescription. You must be
- Diagnosed with chronic lung conditions such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis.
- Under 60 and in receipt of free NHS prescriptions, or over 60 and struggling to pay their heating bill.
The service will prescribe a heating plan to keep homes at temperatures recommended by public health guidance, support people with further energy efficiency information and signpost to other services that could help.
The Warm Home Prescription is a new service being piloted by Energy Systems Catapult and the NHS. For more informations please visit – https://es.catapult.org.uk/news/warm-home-prescription-trial-aims-to-save-nhs-time-and-money/
Is the warm home prescription the same as the warm home discount scheme?
No, the 2 schemes are completely different. The warm home discount scheme was established in 2011 to provide support to persons on low-income and who are vulnerable to cold-related illness or living wholly or mainly in fuel poverty in Great Britain. The warm home prescription is a pilot scheme in 2021 and 2022 to trial the payment of heating homes of low-income patients, who may need hospital care if they become more ill.
I live in Northern Ireland. Can I get a Warm Home Prescription?
At the time of writing, there is no live pilot/trial for the warm home prescription in Northern Ireland.
It’s hoped that the introduction of the Warm Home Prescription will help those most vulnerable of hospital admission due to living in cold homes to mitigate this risk through the prescribing of a Warm Home Prescription. This initiative is being trialled across England, Scotland and Wales throughout the winter months.
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