Doctors prescribe new boilers for patients!

A pilot scheme is allowing doctors to order new boilers for patients with lung problems made worse by the damp and cold. The NHS-funded initiative also allows medics to recommend funding for new windows and doors. And the idea, which could soon be extended to help children with asthma, may be taken up across the UK. Six patients so far have each been prescribed £5,000 worth of energy-efficient improvements.

Doctors to prescribe new boilers engineer imageSupporters argue the scheme is value for money as it reduces the risk of an emergency admission to hospital – which cost £2,500 each. The test patients in Sunderland had been admitted to hospital 63 times, including three emergency admissions .

Retired electrician Herbie Harris, 77, and wife June, 75, were among the first to receive a new boiler, double-glazed windows and doors. He said: “We have noticed a big difference since the new glazing was put in. The house is now keeping its heat a whole lot better, and we feel warmer and more comfortable.

“Hopefully it will reduce the bills and make a difference to my health.” June, who helps care for her husband, added: “We’ve worked all our lives so this has been a very welcome surprise. “My husband is always cold and used to sit with extra jumpers on but now he is taking his jumpers off. We used to keep the heating on low to keep the chill off the bedroom. Now we don’t have to do that. We’re happier and it’s less worry.”

The scheme, which began in January, is funded by Sunderland’s clinical commissioning group and the patients’s homes are assessed by social housing group Gentoo.

Director Sally Hancox said: “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. We hope the savings made to the NHS will enable us to increase the scale of this pioneering project and improve even more lives.”

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