England should be ashamed of how it treats its elderly, the Health Secretary said in a speech today.
It is a "national shame" that there are 800,000 elderly people in society who are chronically lonely, Jeremy Hunt said.
"We know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have utterly failed to confront as a society," he said.
"Forty-six percent of people aged 80 or over report feeling lonely some of the time or often. Some five million people say television is their main form of company - that's 10% of the population.
"Each and every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.
"A forgotten million who live amongst us - ignored to our national shame."