The accelerator, Energy Systems Catapult, has piloted a new service called Warm Home Prescription, which allows a select number of NHS regions to pay the energy bills of vulnerable NHS patients from low income households.
The two areas participating in the winter 2022/23 pilot service are Aberdeenshire and Tees Valley.
Eligible patients from NHS Grampian and NHS North East and North Cumbria will be invited directly to take part in the Warm Home Prescription programme.
Once accepted onto the programme, money will be directly credited onto the recipient’s energy bill and participants will immediately be able to heat their homes to the NHS-recommended ‘healthy temperature’ between 18C and 21C.
Energy Systems Catapult has said that the service can help to reduce the financial and time-sensitive strains currently faced by the NHS. By heating vulnerable households, the programme aims to mitigate the number of patients admitted to hospital for conditions that have worsened from living in cold homes.
Only 16% of the UK Government’s £2.5 billion expenditure to reduce fuel poverty, said Energy Systems Catapult, reaches fuel poor households.
Last winter, Energy Systems Catapult, ran a similar Warm Home Prescription pilot in Gloucestershire in partnership with NHS social prescribers and local charity, Severn Wye.
The 2021/2022 pilot study reported that the service was quick and easy to prescribe, as well as being immediately impactful, with the ability to deliver practical help within two weeks. Recipients of the service were also reported to have fed back positively, stating that they felt “warmer, healthier, less stressed about bills and less likely to visit GPs or hospital.”
The unprecedented rise of energy bills has put a significant strain on households across the UK. While the Energy Price Guarantee has been rolled out to cap energy bills for all households, the rate of £2,500 for the average home is still significantly hiring than in recent years, straining expenses as households struggle with the wider energy crisis.
Additionally, Ofgem released its Market Compliance Review this week, which claimed that each of the UK’s 17 energy suppliers need to strengthen their support for “customers in a vulnerable situation”.