COPDNHS patients living in cold, damp homes have seen their health improve as part of a ground-breaking trial in which family doctors have been able to ‘prescribe’ double glazing, boilers and insulation.
The ‘Boilers on Prescription’ project, which has been run between North East-based housing firm Gentoo Group and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for the past 18 months, has reported a 60% reduction in the number of GP appointments needed by patients taking part in the scheme, after it investigated the impact of domestic thermal efficiency works on the health and wellbeing of NHS patients.
A&E attendances reduced by 30% and emergency admissions to A&E departments reduced by 25%.

NHS patients suffering from respiratory diseases that are exacerbated by the cold, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), were referred onto the scheme by the CCG and received improvements to their home such as new energy efficient boilers, double glazing and insulation totalling on average £5,000 per property.

It would appear that the patients’ ability to self-manage their condition has increased, which has reduced the number of appointments they have needed at their local GP practice.
The trial has been administered centrally by Sunderland CCG and did not require any additional resource from the patients’ GP practices.

Tim Ballard, Vice-Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The link between energy efficiency measures that improve the quality of homes or buildings and the health impacts such measures generate is a new field of investigation but a growing body of evidence supports the claims that energy efficiency measures have positive impacts on the health of some of the most vulnerable of our patients. We welcome these findings especially in relation to patient wellbeing and the potential impact on GP workload.”