HC Deb 07 September 2004 vol 424 cc1101-2W
Sandra Gidley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce targets to reduce the number of winter deaths. [186798]

Ms Rosie Winterton

There are no plans to introduce additional targets specifically to reduce the number of winter deaths. The Government are committed to decreasing the number of national targets imposed on the national health service and allowing more locally agreed targets. The document. "National Standards, Local action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005–06 to 2007–08", published on 21 July 2004, has already set out the national targets for the next five years.

However, there is an existing target to tackle influenza, one of the biggest seasonal killers. A target for influenza vaccination in those aged 65 and over has been set since 2000–01. In 2003–04, the target was that nationally over 70 per cent. of that age group would be vaccinated, and thanks to last year's successful 'flu immunisation campaign, this was exceeded, with 71 per cent. of those aged 65 or over being vaccinated. The 70 per cent. take-up target remains this year.

In addition to the 'flu target, the Government have several other initiatives to reduce avoidable winter deaths. These include the "Keep Warm, Keep Well" campaign, which offers people advice on staying warm and keeping well in winter and winter fuel payments for older people, which help to keep warm those most susceptible to the cold weather.