A Prescription for Energy? Think Piece 4
One of the key challenges to help people in fuel poverty is how do we identify those in need. There is no easy route to recognising who needs help and when. All too frequently we only become aware of individuals living in cold, damp conditions when their health has deteriorated to a point that they are hospitalised through ill health.
If we are to act responsibly to solve this, we need to think radically about how we deal with the issue. One of the steps that has been taken recently is to move budgetary authority to GPs: they are at the heart of the community and deal every day with the problems triggered by living in cold, damp conditions. As a society, it is reasonable to believe that these are members of the community we all believe both need and deserve our help, even before considering the budgetary savings in health care that could be achieved by maintaining minimum temperatures in their homes.
Starting from the basis that we are entrusting GPs with our health care budgets, let’s take that a step further and trust them to prescribe electricity and gas to sick and vulnerable patients. We trust our GPs, they are in the front line, let’s start to direct support from the energy companies to those in real need. Yes, it will be challenging, but why not give energy companies a route to help and support those in identified need through an energy prescription?
I am sure it won’t be easy, that there will be opponents, but really can we argue that we should allow people to suffer in their own homes because they cannot afford to properly heat their homes? I don’t think we can.
Tim Smith, Green Energy