Mitigating the effects of fuel poverty could help drive down NHS costs

Identifying people in danger of falling into fuel poverty and helping them mitigate their heating and electricity woes could potentially help the NHS reduce its costs by preventing the potentially life-threatening conditions induced by the lack of adequate heating.

This is what charity Shelter Scotland claims as it has recently launched the national Healthy Homes project to highlight the influence frontline staff have in the health and social care sectors who it says should be utilised to help identify the 845,000 households in fuel poverty.

The charity says that such a move has the potential to save NHS Scotland up to £80 million every year.

Funded by the charitable British Gas Energy Trust, the Healthy Homes project aims to build relationships between health, housing and energy sectors to help them work together to address Scotland’s fuel poverty crisis.

Shelter Scotland says that almost 35% of households in Scotland are in fuel poverty – a total of 845,000 families and individuals. The number of households in extreme fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 229,000.

Recent estimates claim that for every £1 spent reducing fuel poverty in Scotland, the NHS alone could save 42p.Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Every year we hear from thousands of families and individuals making the stark choice between heating or eating, families who struggle to adequately heat their homes, plunging many into a cycle of energy debt, poor health and diminished future prospects.

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