To ask the Secretary of State for Health if health authorities will be able to use the recently announced extra funds to avoid winter pressures for health and social care, to reduce their budget deficits. 
Details of the priorities for the extra funds for the National Health Service announced in October 1997 are contained in Executive Letter EL(97)64, copies of which are available in the Library. This made clear that priority would be given to plans which:
help hospitals cope with medical emergencies which are already known or likely to occur during the winter months, for example by improving staffing levels at times of peak pressure and through services being open for extra hours;
reduce delays in discharging patients, for example by improving rehabilitation and recuperation services, funding increased care at home, extra nursing and residential home places and more social services support;
reduce the need for people to be admitted to hospital in the first place by strengthening primary, community and social services, providing more specialist nursing and therapy for people—particularly older people—in their own homes, nursing and residential homes, and through improved community and out-of-hours services;
restrain the growth in waiting times and waiting lists. As resources allow, a further aim should be to keep any increase in lists and waiting times to an absolute minimum and where possible improve on performance.