Speaking at gathering of influential primary care clinicians and housing officials today, Dr Michael Dixon, chair of NHS Alliance, will argue that housing organisations could save the NHS billions of pounds a year. Ensuring people have a safe and warm home to return to after a hospital stay would help swifter discharges, while a reduction in emergency admissions and GP appointments could be achieved through preventative measures, he will say, stating that “health must begin at home”.
Dr Dixon’s speech marks the launch of an NHS Alliance-driven initiative to better understand the correlation between housing and health, ‘Health Begins At Home’. NHS Alliance has collaborated with the housing sector to develop a brand new online resource to support this initiative. www.housingforhealth.net will allow housing and health professionals to network and share learning and good practice, and aims to review and update evidence as it becomes available.
Dr Dixon will say: “While there is much to commend in NHS England’s Forward View, especially the emphasis on primary care and prevention, we don’t think it goes far enough. Housing is not specifically mentioned, but we believe there is an imperative to work far more collaboratively with our colleagues in housing, most importantly to improve people’s quality of life, but with the very considerable value-add of huge savings to the NHS.
“Recent research suggests that inadequate housing is costing the NHS £1.4bn a year, but this only takes the poorest 15% of housing stock in England into consideration, and does not include any mental health issues associated with inadequate housing. Neither does it include any savings that could be made through housing-health partnerships to support community wellbeing, homeless people or people living with long-term conditions.
“Significant numbers of physical accidents, respiratory and mental health conditions can be directly attributed to poor quality housing – for example, through extreme damp – and addressing the root cause of these entirely avoidable conditions is long overdue.”
Dr Dixon predicts that savings many times that previously estimated could be achieved, based on the vision set out for ‘Health Begins At Home’. It is predicted that improving home conditions, and the care offered to people living at home, could reduce outpatient appointments and GP visits by as much as 55 per cent in certain instances. Studies have also demonstrated that improved living conditions also have enormous benefits (74 per cent improvement) to the quality of life individuals enjoy.
Jeremy Porteus, founder and director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network, said: “The most conservative estimates claim that inadequate or inappropriate housing costs the NHS £1.4bn a year. Many GPs are familiar with the diverse housing problems faced by their patients; for example, the need for home adaptations or a move to specialist accommodation following a stroke or the onset of dementia. However, they probably don’t know where they can access housing guidance to inform their decisions. This new resource is an important step for health professionals to help address health inequalities.”
Notes to editors
- NHS Alliance is an independent, not-for-profit, leadership organisation representing progressive providers of care outside hospital. Neither professional body nor trade union, it is an entirely solutions focused organisation, unique in its approach bringing together more than 10,000 passionate individuals and organisations across primary care who believe innovation, connections and integration are key to the sustainability of a health service that remains free to all at the point of need.
- It represents primary care in its entirety from general practice, community eye, hearing and foot care, community pharmacy, dentistry and physiotherapy to out of hours and emergency services as well as determinants of health outcomes like housing organisations or those with an interest in maintaining good health such as local authorities and health and wellbeing boards.
- A recognised and highly regarded engine for change, it provides a robust and influential voice for its members, and is consistently instrumental in helping shape health agendas and policy. An early exponent of clinical commissioning, it now works closely with providers and communities to identify and share the kinds of solutions we need to sustain the NHS in times of unparalleled austerity. It also provides practical support to help drive the innovation it advocates.
Production of the site was funded by: Home Group, Poplar Harca, New Charter Housing, Together Housing Group, Placeshapers, Housing Learning and Improvement Network and Blaby District Council
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