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Extra energy support this winter

“Don't miss out on vital help with your energy services!” – say local health and care leaders to patients who rely on power for their health.

The NHS in the North East and North Cumbria has teamed up with Ofgem to raise awareness of the support available to people so they can stay warm, safe, and well this winter.

The priority services register is a free service that helps suppliers know which customers need extra support. This could be because of your age, a disability, if you have an illness or mental health problems, have communication needs, or if there have been changes in your life (such as pregnancy or if you have children under the age of five).

All people need to do is contact their energy supplier, either by phone, app, or their website, and ask to be put on their priority services register. If you're eligible, they can help with things like advance notice of power cuts, priority support in an emergency, or sending bills to a family member or carer.

As one of the biggest employers in the region, NHS organisations will be spreading the word amongst its staff - as well as with the public and patients - as part of its winter plans to help people to say well.

Samantha Allen, chief executive of the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said: "Good health is not just about treating sickness – it's also about keeping well and it can be particularly challenging for people who need extra support to do that.

“If you rely on power for essential medical equipment, have a health condition, or struggle to get to the door in an emergency, or to access your meter or read your energy bills, your supplier can help. Getting registered means your supplier knows who you are and what help you need.”

Martin Campbell, Head of Consumer Vulnerability & Debt, for Ofgem said: “Supporting consumers this winter and beyond is our top priority and that means ensuring customers know exactly what support that is available to them. That’s why, working with key partners, charities and the wider industry, our Energy Aware advice will help to clearly signpost the support that is available for consumers. This is alongside our robust work to hold the energy industry to the highest of standards and make sure consumers are protected during these very difficult times ahead. Our latest consumer research shows that only one in three consumers are aware of the Priority Services Register (PSR), and even amongst those who have heard of it, a substantial minority who could be eligible for the PSR based on their personal circumstances are not on it. You can find out more about the Register on the Ofgem website.”

You might still be able to register for other reasons if your situation is not listed - for example, if you need short-term support after a stay in hospital.

Tips for staying well this winter:

  • Eat and drink better; increase your fruit and vegetable and fluid intake to boost your immune system
  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can. Remember to keep your window closed on winter nights as breathing in cold air can be bad for your health because it increases the risk of chest infections.
  • Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet
  • Get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 if you’re eligible
  • Find different ways to be active

If you are unwell then it is vital that you seek medical help if you need it, but please think carefully about which service you choose. Emergency departments and 999 are only there to treat the most serious and life-threatening conditions so please think about whether your local pharmacy or NHS 111 online can help.

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