CARERS in Worcestershire and across the country have been hailed for their “immense contribution” and promised more will be done to support them in their work.

Speaking at a conference in London, NHS England’s new chief executive Simon Stevens said the organisation is committed to doing more to help the growing numbers of people providing unpaid care to family members of friends.

More than 1.4 million people in the country provide 50 or more hours of unpaid work a week, with the amount of unpaid carers increasing by 600,000 between 2001 and 2011.

Mr Stevens said it was vital the NHS gave carers the recognition and help they needed.

“We also need to remember how the demands of caring can take its toll on people’s own health,” he said.

“We need to care for the carers.”

Research shows full-time carers are more than twice as likely to suffer bad health as non-carers, 73 per cent report increased anxiety and 82 per cent say they have suffered stress.

About three million have had to cut their working hours to meet their caring commitments and 2.3 million have been forced to give up work altogether.

Following the findings NHS England has pledged to work to improve the working conditions and lives of carers across the country.