Social business Gentoo Group has set up a 'Boiler on Prescription' scheme for NHS patients suffering from respiratory conditions caused by cold homes.

Working with Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Gentoo Group has created the pilot in an attempt to show the link between energy-efficiency improvements and good health.

The first pilot, held in January 2014 and funded by Sunderland CCG, helped make improvements to six households suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This included the installation of double glazing, energy-efficient boilers, loft and cavity insulation, external and internal wall insulation, and draught-proofing. Local GPs will now monitor the patients for signs of improved health.

Sally Hancox, director of Gentoo Green, explained that while COPD can’t be cured, it is hoped that upgrading people’s homes will manage the symptoms of the disease, while reducing the risk of fuel poverty and cutting down the support required from the NHS.

“Improving the art of living is at the heart of everything we do at Gentoo – and wellbeing is core to this,” she said. “We aim to help people feel comfortable in their homes.”

Dr Nonnie Crawford, Sunderland’s director of public health, added: “We decided to fund the Boiler on Prescription pilot because we believe it is an alternative approach to an ongoing problem. With Gentoo, we are hoping to establish the impacts a warm home has on patients who have conditions we know are exacerbated by living in a cold environment.”