NHS bodies have this week been unable to point to any evidence that plans have been drawn up to protect people who need electricity to run lifesaving medical equipment in their homes, in the event of power blackouts this winter.
It is now the third consecutive week that Disability News Service (DNS) has attempted – without success so far – to secure information from the government, public bodies and the energy industry about what preparations have been made to protect disabled people in the event of three-hour blackouts this winter.
So far, the only advice from the government and the power industry is that disabled people who rely on equipment such as ventilators, home dialysis machines, or fridges for insulin, should sign up to their energy provider’s Priority Services Register.
They may then be given advance notice of a power cut, could have priority support for emergency cooking and heating facilities if their electricity is cut off, and may be signposted to charities such as Red Cross for “hot meals and drinks”.
They could also be advised to “seek advice from their local health service provider”.
This week, DNS approached four of the new Integrated Care Boards* – established in July by NHS England under the government’s Health and Care Act 2022 – to ask them what advice local health service providers in England might provide when contacted.
But by noon today (Thursday), none of the four – Cheshire and Merseyside; Derby and Derbyshire; South West London; or Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB ICB) – had been able to provide any details of plans being prepared for the winter.
Derby and Derbyshire ICB passed DNS to its local resilience forum, which had failed to comment by noon today.
A spokesperson for the ICB also referred DNS to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) because “they are co-ordinating the messaging for providers and patients”.
But DHSC – as it did last week – referred DNS to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which last week was unable to point to any detailed plans.
A spokesperson for South West London ICB also referred DNS to NHS England, BEIS and the energy companies.
He was unable to comment further by noon today.
A spokesperson for BOB ICB was unable to provide any details of plans in place in its area by noon today, but she said in a statement: “All utility companies keep lists of vulnerable people.
“GP practices also maintain a list of vulnerable patients so they can be identified in the event of an emergency incident.
“The Local Resilience Forum (which includes representation from energy companies, water companies, health partners, social care, police, fire and voluntary services) would co-ordinate a response to ensure health needs are met.”
Cheshire and Merseyside ICB had failed to comment by noon today.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, had also been unable to provide any information by noon today.
*ICBs are intended to bring together NHS services with councils and other local bodies “to plan, co-ordinate and commission health and care services”
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