Known as the Warm Home Prescription pilot, the scheme has already paid to heat the homes of 28 low-income patients and is now being expanded to more than 1,000 homes.
The scheme is also looking to help the mounting problem of rising costs of hospital care when people get severely ill, by helping patients whose conditions worsen during wintertime.
The first stage of the pilot ran from December 2021 to March 2022, but details of the scheme can only now be revealed.
The NHS in Gloucestershire covered patients’ heating costs as a preventative measure for reducing hospital visits.
In the initial pilot, 28 patients suffering with cold-sensitive health conditions had an average of £647credited to their energy accounts.
It was deemed so successful that it will be expanded for this winter, with a further 150 people across Gloucestershire, plus about 1,000 in Aberdeen and Teesside, able to receive this vital “warmth” support.
These 150 people are expected to have their energy accounts credited between November 2022 and March 2023.
Dr Matt Lipson, who helped design the pilot programme, believes this new step is a no-brainer for the health service.
“If we buy the energy people need but can’t afford, they can keep warm at home and stay out of hospital,” he said.
“That would target support to where it’s needed, save money overall, and take pressure off the health service.”
Cold weather is known to negatively impact certain health conditions.
This is more evident among the elderly as the longer the exposure to the cold, the more risk of pneumonia, arthritis, heart attacks, lung conditions, or strokes.
Lung conditions, for example, will greatly worsen in the winter as cold air is often dry air and, for many, especially those with chronic lung disease, that can cause a host of health troubles.
Dry air is known to irritate the airways of people with lung diseases, leading to worsening wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.