NHS needs 'much better' uptake on flu jabs
Published on 04 December 2013 02:30 PM
The NHS needs to do more to ensure that older people get the flu jab this winter, the energy minister has suggested.
Ed Davey was speaking to MPs this week about the need for the health service to do 'much better' at preventing flu outbreaks ahead of the cold season.
He told MPs that helping keep down energy bills and making houses more efficient with better insulation was not the only action needed to be taken.
Excess winter deaths rocketed 29% last winter
He recommended that people should get the flu vaccine. He also said they could lower their power bills by switching suppliers, in order to benefit from 'some very attractive deals in the market'.
Mr Davey was speaking about the 'disgrace' of high winter deaths in 2012/13.
He said: 'It is a disgrace but we need to understand why that has been caused.'
The minister attributed the figures to a 'very dangerous combination' of a protracted and serious global bout of flu combined with a very late cold snap.
He said: 'Yes we need to insulate people's homes more, yes we have to help them with their bills but we also have to work with others, particularly the Department of Health, to ensure we have, for example, a much better record on ensuring people get flu jabs.'
Mr Davey said reductions to environmental levies on energy companies announced on December 2 would not stop efforts to combat fuel poverty.
The reductions are a bid to cut an average £50 off recent increases in household fuel bills.
Mr Davey rejected 'very ill-informed' criticism
But he accepted average bills would still jump by an average £70, despite the changes.
The amendments are aimed at gaining back the political initiative on the cost of living from Labour, which has promised a 20-month bill freeze.
Mr Davey also rejected 'very ill-informed' criticism by the environmental audit committee of a planned change to the official definition of fuel poverty under changes to the Energy Bill.
The Government was accused of 'shifting the goalposts' to lower the amount of households in the category, so that 2.4 million are classed as fuel poor rather than 3.2 million.
Excess winter deaths in England and Wales rocketed 29% last winter to 31,000, with 1,582 people dying every day during the coldest March in decades.
Copyright Press Association 2013