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Hundreds of NHS patients supported through energy scheme

Scotland’s largest independent advice agency is delivering an innovative programme to support patients to be discharged home safely after stays in hospital.

Glasgow-based Money Matters is delivering the Home Energy Crisis Response Service in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

The charity works with patients who have been identified as needing helping with home energy costs to ease any concerns about returning home to a cold or damp home.

As well as helping with the physical and mental wellbeing of patients, the service also helps people to get home more quickly, freeing up much needed beds and contributing to improved patient flow through hospitals.

The Money Matters team can tackle immediate energy emergencies, advocate on behalf of patients with energy providers and help with access to external home energy emergency funds.

Audrey Laing, Chief Operating Officer at Money Matters, believes the wider recognition of the services the charity can bring to communities has come to the fore following 12 years of consistent funding from British Gas Energy Trust.

Audrey said:

“We’re delighted to be part of this innovative project that has come at a crucial time with the energy crisis. We want patients to focus on their recovery rather than worrying about their energy issues. The assistance our advisers are providing to patients and their families is invaluable and will help alleviate energy crisis situations.
It’s bad enough thinking about going home from hospital and worrying about whether people have the right equipment or medication. So, imagine going home and worrying about whether you have heating or not. The NHS sees this a lot, and while it’s not a new phenomenon, it has heightened since the cost-of-living crisis. It’s really important people can return home to a safe and warm environment, and that’s where we come in. It helps with physical and mental health, gets people home in good time and frees up much-needed beds in our hospitals.”

In the last year, the small team has supported almost 300 patients across 20 hospitals across the region. Support is initially offered by phone, but each patient is also offered a face-to-face visit to ensure the transition from hospital to home has been smooth. In the last year, the service has helped people collectively gain more than £22,000 and manage debts worth over £34,000.

Anna Baxendale, Head of Health Improvement at NHSGGC, said:

“Fuel bills are a huge challenge for all of us at the moment, but for some patients fuel poverty is such a significant issue that when there is no power on at home we cannot allow them home, even if they are ready for discharge.
That is why this new service is so important. As well as addressing the physical and psychological needs of patients, it allows us to get patients home more quickly if they are ready to do so.”

Feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive, with one commenting:

“I was so worried that my meter would have ran out of money whilst I was in hospital. I am so grateful that someone is sorting this out for me as I’m not good at dealing with these things.”

Another said:

“Needed help to top up gas meter as it’s been so expensive. I am so grateful for the help of this service.”

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