MP Paul Burstow is championing a campaign aimed at cutting the physical and mental health problems brought on by loneliness.

Mr Burstow, the former care secretary, has rallied other MPs to support the charity Campaign to End Loneliness and is asking people in Sutton to take notice of the issue. He has also organised for MPs across the country to be given campaign packs helping them identify loneliness in their area and know what to do to help people.

Mr Burstow said: "As a Minister I recognised loneliness as having a big impact on people’s quality of life. In my work now as a London MP I know there are up to 300,000 lonely older people suffering in silence across the capital - and this is a scandal.

"If we don’t start to champion loneliness as a health and care issue, elderly people across the country, will continue to have their lives cut short.

"This is why I am taking neighbourhood action in my constituency of Sutton and Cheam and urging other MPs to join the Campaign to End Loneliness - so they can take the lead in strengthening community ties in their constituency in order to improve public health."

Around 10 per cent of over 65s say they are lonely or very lonely and 20 per cent are occasionally lonely. Research shows loneliness can affect both physical and mental health.

Laura Ferguson at Campaign to End Loneliness said: "MPs need to know about the many health and personal problems loneliness causes to their constituents: it is hidden and unless those in positions of leadership are asking questions about how best to help people who are lonely, those who are most isolated can be forgotten.

"Finding those who are lonely is vital at times like Christmas, but their lives must be helped all year-round, both one to one, in their neighbourhoods and by authorities making decisions about our health.

"Responsibility for addressing this health problem lies with those making decisions about the health of the whole population in every local area."