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Younger children to get flu jab

Children aged two and three will be vaccinated against flu for the first time in a raft of new Government measures to prevent a winter health crisis.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt presented the step as part of his strategy to help the most vulnerable during the winter months after announcing an ambitious plan to overhaul the way A&E departments cope with increased pressure.

He told reporters that NHS trusts will have to ensure that 75% of all their staff have been vaccinated against flu to gain access to a new £500 million A&E fund next year.

This winter 53 of the most "at risk" A&E departments across the country will have access to the fund to help them provide extra consultant care, improve care for those with long-term conditions and integrate better with social care teams.

In the long-term, the Health Secretary has said he intends to create a more "joined up" service with measures such as the creation of an IT system which allows hospitals, GPs and social care to share patient records.

"This winter is going to be tough - that's why the Government is acting now to make sure patients receive a great, safe service, even with the added pressures the cold weather brings," Mr Hunt said.

"But this is a serious, long-term problem which needs fundamental changes to equip our A&Es for the future.

"In the long term I want a 24/7 service which recognises patients as individuals and looks out for them proactively.

"Starting with our most vulnerable, this Government is going to support the NHS in doing exactly that."

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