Patients prescribed boilers in new NHS funded trial

27th May 2014

A new trial funded by the NHS in association with Gentoo is turning up the heat on ill health by enabling doctors to prescribe free central heating boilers to patients living with specific medical conditions. 

The pilot scheme, running in the North East and funded by Sunderland’s clinical commissioning group, has seen doctors offer boiler replacement on prescription to six Wearside-based patients living with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a highly dibilitating medical condition which can be made worse by cold and damp conditions.

With a total of 63 interactions between the six patients – which includes three admissions to hospital emergency departments – the aim of the scheme is to try and reduce the number of hospital and GP appointments.

Prior to carrying out the free energy efficient home improvements in the patients’ homes, Gentoo assessed each property to determine which energy saving measures would be most beneficial and cost effective. During the pilot scheme, the average spending on central heating boilers was £5,000 – twice what each hospital emergency admission costs.

Commenting on the pilot scheme, Gentoo Green director Sally Hancox said Gentoo was committed to supporting the initiative longterm:

“While conditions such as COPD can’t be cured, it is hoped improvements to people’s homes will not only improve quality of life and reduce the risk of fuel poverty, but may help manage the symptoms and result in less ongoing support from the NHS.

She added that it was hoped the savings made to the NHS would allow Gentoo to increase the scale of the project to improve more lives.

Former Sunderland electrician Herbie Harris was one of the first people to benefit from the pilot scheme. Gentoo installed a brand condensing boiler, in addition to new windows and new doors. Mr Harris, 77, said he and his wife had noticed a huge improvement since the measures had been carried out, and that the house was much more comfortable and warmer.