The report assesses how many health and wellbeing boards in England are including public health indicators on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths in their needs assessments and health and wellbeing strategies. It also assesses the extent to which health and wellbeing boards are applying National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations to reduce ill health associated with living in a cold home.
While there are some signs for optimism, NEA’s findings show serious call for concern on the role and impact of health and wellbeing boards in tackling fuel poverty.
• 40% of health and wellbeing board strategies fail to address fuel poverty or excess winter deaths.
• Only 32% of health and wellbeing boards reference actions in their joint strategic needs assessments or strategy that are in line with at least one of the 12 NICE recommendations.
• 30% have some form of health and housing referral service in place to provide tailored solutions to people vulnerable to the cold, but only one fifth of boards reference such a service in their strategies.
• Evidence of procedures that make sure hospitals and other service providers do not discharge patients into cold homes is only available for 13% of boards.
• The majority of health and wellbeing boards are not yet playing the leadership role envisaged by NICE and Public Health England to address ill health from cold homes
• More optimistically, there is an increase in the number of boards prioritising fuel poverty as a health and wellbeing issue, with more than a third of boards now doing so.
‘Get Warm Soon?’ goes on to outline a series of recommendations, focusing on;
• Incorporating the NICE guidance into joint health and wellbeing strategies
• Improving public health leadership to tackle cold homes
• Improving accountability
• Implementing the NICE recommendations
• Tailoring fuel poverty schemes to address public health priorities