Graham Evans: What steps his Department has taken to ease the short and long-term impact of winter pressures on NHS services.
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): In the short term, a record £400 million has been assigned to help the NHS cope with winter pressures this winter, with £250 million announced in August—much earlier than before. For the long term, we will provide better out-of-hospital care for the frail elderly, by restoring the link between GPs and older patients, and looking to integrate the health and social care systems.
Graham Evans: Will my right hon. Friend join me in praising the outstanding work of Age UK and, in particular, Age UK Cheshire, which serves my constituency? It is raising older people’s awareness of seasonal impacts on health and offering support to prevent unnecessary pressures on the health service.
Mr Hunt: I am delighted to do that. As these are the last Health questions before Christmas, all of us would want to pay tribute to the voluntary organisations that do an extraordinary job of making sure that vulnerable older people do not get lonely over the Christmas period. It is heroic what they do—when we are with our families, they are looking after other people—and we should salute them all.