NHS seeks to open ‘warm banks’ as energy crisis hits patients

NHS trusts are considering opening “warm benches” Because of fears, lives are at risk this winter as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

At least two trusts are considering providing hospital and healthcare spaces for people in need of a warm place, while one GP said he would offer food and open a room in his office for people struggling to heat their homes.

It comes as an NHS chief has warned that a lack of heating could be “life-threatening” for vulnerable patients and is leading to hospital admissions.

Harrogate and Rural District Hospital Foundation Trust and Leeds Community Healthcare Trust could become the first to open “warm banks” if their plans go ahead.

Harrogate staff are looking at whether they can use the trust hospital’s education center as a warm place for patients. She has also launched support for workers struggling with the rising cost of living, including a store where workers can pick up items at no cost and can make donations.

It has also increased its per-mile petrol reimbursement rates for staff, not reintroduced car parking charges, allows staff to sell their holiday allowance and is offering a £500 grant for anyone struggling.

Harrogate and Rural District Hospital staff shop

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Harrogate and Rural District Hospital Staff Shop

(Harrogate and rural district)

Leeds Community Healthcare Trust is exploring whether its community health centers can be used as buildings with heat and electricity for people in the community, as well as places where voluntary organizations can receive walk-ins for those in need.

Another trust in Leicester has also discussed the idea of ​​hosting warm benches, but has not yet started planning for them. the independent It was said.

Dr. Farzana Hussain, a GP in Newham, east London, will open a ward to hold around 16 people in her practice this October and provide soup to patients in need, amid fears patients could die of hypothermia or starvation this winter.

She said the independent: “If you were to ask me in my 21st year as a GP, did I ever think I would be in this position and thinking about providing food? It’s a horrible place we’re in, but without food and warmth, how can we be healthy?

“All my medical training is not going to help anyone when my elderly patient is already hypothermic.

“We are living in one of the most iconic cities in the world, I never thought I would see this. I never would have thought that we could face a day where we could get a call saying that one of our patients died of starvation or hypothermia. That is moral damage. I don’t want it to happen, but if it did happen I wouldn’t be surprised and that’s a horrible thing to behold.”

Last week, Samantha Allen, head of the NHS in the North East and Cumbria, wrote to the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, warning that vulnerable people were having their power cut off. She warned the regulator that it could be “a threat to the lives of some people”.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said health leaders were concerned that thousands of people were faced with the choice between skipping meals and having to heat their homes or living in cold, damp conditions.

He said this would exacerbate health inequalities and that health leaders “well know that energy poverty is likely to lead to significant additional demand on what are already very fragile services.”

Charlotte Augst, chief executive of the National Voices charity, said she had heard of a growing number of people who are unable to meet the “basic necessities of life” while living with poor health.

“Cancer patients can feel very cold during treatment, people living with Crohn’s disease or colitis may find they have more laundry to do, and kidney patients often need to run essential, energy-intensive equipment during the day. the night,” he said.

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