Plumbers ‘should report cold homes’

New guidance from health experts has suggested that plumbers and heating engineers should join GPs in tackling problems caused by cold homes….

The latest guidance by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that health and social care providers, as well as those working in the heating, plumbing and electricity industry sign post people who live in cold homes.

Experts believe that each council area should establish teams to help people access grants and advice, and ensure that there is a single point of contact to help vulnerable people who live in cold homes.

Cold weather is estimated to cost the NHS £1.3bn a year, according to the charity Age UK, and there are said to be around 24,000 excess winter deaths each year, while many more people are made ill by living in cold homes.

NICE believes that professionals who carry out home visits could refer those at risk to the local authorities, with the agreement of the people judged as needing help.

Professor Gillian Land of NICE, said: “We must stop the revolving door scenario where people are made ill by living in a cold home, they go into hospital for treatment, but are then discharged back to the cold home which continues to damage their health.”

With a little training the watchdog feels that plumbers, metre readers and engineers could join with more traditional health and care staff in helping identify people at risk.

They could then be given advice about how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and how to access improvement and insulation grants.


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