Need a new boiler? Try asking your doctor, thanks to a new pilot project in the region.
North-east based social business Gentoo Group has teamed up with various NHS North East Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to come up with the ‘Boiler on Prescription’ pilot, in which a GP can prescribe home improvements, free of charge, to patients who have medical conditions exacerbated by cold, damp homes.
The improvements, delivered by Gentoo, aim to enable the patient to live in increased comfort, decreasing the need for medical interventions and therefore reducing repeat GP and hospital appointments.
In January, the first pilot, funded by Sunderland CCG, included six city households - not Gentoo customers - identified by their local GP as suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD,) a serious respiratory condition made worse by living in cold homes.
One of those to benefit was 77 year old Herbie Harris. The former electrician lives in Sunderland with his wife June, 75, and suffers from COPD as well as other serious medical conditions. Mr Harris said: “We’ve had new windows, two new doors and a new boiler. Previous to the pilot happening we were all double glazed but we put it in 30 years ago when we bought the house.
“We have noticed a big difference since the new glazing was put in. The house is now keeping its heat a whole lot better, we feel warmer and more comfortable in our own home.
“In general, we have a very comfortable home and hopefully it’ll reduce the bills.”