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Monday 19 April 2004

Health Minister Supports Energy Awareness Training for Health Workers

Training aimed at health professionals who work with vulnerable people that have problems with cold, damp conditions in their home is being given support today (19 April) by Health and Community Care Minister, Malcolm Chisholm MSP.

The training is being delivered by fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland with backing from National Grid Transco. UNISONScotland and NHS Greater Glasgow Primary Care Division have also supported the initiative.

Health workers such as district nurses, community midwives and occupational therapists regularly see people whose living conditions could be affecting their health. The purpose of the energy awareness training is to help identify potential problems and encourage referrals to energy advice staff and grant schemes for heating and insulation.

Minister for Health and Community Care, Malcolm Chisholm said: "I applaud Energy Action Scotland for taking the initiative to develop this course. It is an excellent example of joined up thinking in action. It recognises that health improvement requires a multi agency approach and highlights the important role health workers play in tackling life circumstances like poor housing and fuel poverty, both of which impact directly on people's health”.

Energy Action Scotland Director, Ann Loughrey said: "The links between cold, damp housing and poor health are well-established and we have found that there is a strong recognition of the problem among health workers. Our aim is to establish a bridge between those who deal with vulnerable people on a daily basis and those who can provide heating systems, insulation and energy advice for those who need it most.”

Ian Reid, Chief Executive, NHS Greater Glasgow Primary Care Division, said: "Our frontline health professionals work in the heart of local communities and are therefore in an ideal position to raise awareness of the grants schemes available. Staff are also able, through their everyday work, to identify people who are most at risk and refer them on to the relevant agencies to ensure they receive the vital help and support they need.”

John Taylor, Government Relations Manager, National Grid Transco commented: "With energy awareness training, frontline health workers are ideally
placed to identify fuel poor households and ensure that they are referred
to relevant organisations to receive the help they need."

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities added: "Health visitors and other professionals who visit people in their home can now both identify fuel poverty as a problem and have information on measures to deal with it. It has been really useful both to the work of our health members and our campaign to eradicate fuel poverty to be able to co-operate in developing and delivering this training."

- ends -

For further information contact:
Elizabeth Gore, PR/Information Manager, Energy Action Scotland on tel: 0141 226 3064 or email: e.gore@eas.org.uk

Editor's notes:

1. ‘Energy Awareness for Health Professionals' is a half day course which aims to demonstrate the link between energy efficiency in the home and health. It covers the scale of fuel poverty in Scotland and its links with poor health; the common ways of heating the home and associated costs; energy use in the home and how it can be reduced; the causes of condensation dampness and associated health problems associated with mould growth; sources of assistance available to those living in fuel poverty.

2. Energy Action Scotland is the national charity which aims to eliminate fuel poverty by:
- raising awareness of fuel poverty, particularly as it affects low income households; maintaining fuel poverty as a national issue of high priority; and working towards affordable warmth for all;
- identifying effective solutions which can transform cold, damp houses into warm, dry homes;
- researching fuel poverty and related issues in order to provide in-depth understanding of the causes and effects and to promote best practice;
- securing public and private investment in domestic energy efficiency

3. Fuel poverty is the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home. This is due to a combination of poor energy efficiency of the dwelling, high price of domestic fuel and low disposable household income.

4. In Scotland, energy efficiency improvements in the domestic sector are available under local authority or housing association improvement plans or the Scottish Executive-funded grant schemes the Warm Deal and the Central Heating Programme which are managed by Eaga Partnership Ltd. Households eligible for a Warm Deal grant include those who are in receipt of a range of state benefits. Home owners or those in the private rented sector aged 60 or over who do not have central heating are among those who may be eligible for the Central Heating Programme. For more information, contact 0800 316 1653. Most gas and electricity companies run energy efficiency schemes under the Energy Efficiency Commitment.


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