UK preps £3m ‘boiler on prescription’ scheme

Boilers, insulation, and double-glazing could be made available on prescription to fuel-poor patients suffering from diseases aggravated by draughty homes.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey is set to announce £3m funding to pave the ground for a scheme to run across England at a conference in London today.

Cold weather is thought to cost the NHS around £1.5bn a year, exacerbating conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, heart and lung disease, kidney disease and mental health problems. Figures show about 9,300 Britons died prematurely during the 2012-13 winter due to cold homes.

The £3m will be used to build systems to help doctors decide whether patients qualify for home improvements, the Guardian reported today, with the trial scheme building on 73 small pilots currently running around the country, including a programme in Sunderland that has cut GP and outpatient visits by a third.

Davey told the newspaper that he had the support of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt whose department would contribute to the nationwide expansion of the programme if the trial is a success.

“Talking to GPs and other health professionals, they get frankly fed up when they’re just dealing with the symptoms and not the root causes,” Davey told the Guardian. “We want to liberate health spending to deal with the root causes of ill health, not deal with the symptoms. I’ve met Jeremy Hunt to talk about it, we’ve had a group of officials working across Whitehall. This is quite exciting stuff.”

The announcement comes after figures revealed the number of homes receiving energy-saving upgrades through government programmes this winter slumped to the lowest level in 13 years.

Analysis by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) show the number of measures targeted at fuel poor households fell from 360,000 to 85,000 – a drop of 76 per cent – between 2011/12 and this winter.

ACE said the lowest ever number of households since 2002 are set to receive energy efficiency support this winter and next in Britain and calculated that at current rates for building improvements, fewer than 30 per cent of six million poorly insulated low income homes will receive energy efficiency support in the next decade.

Written by Business Green Staff, read the original article here: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2397753/uk-preps-gbp3m-boiler-on-prescription-scheme