Norfolk is to receive almost £2m to help ease pressures on hospitals which triggered warnings the county could face a care crisis this winter.

The county has been identified by NHS England as one of the areas which need to be targeted as having the "greatest challenges with urgent and emergency care".

Norwich Evening News: The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital recently declared a critical incidentThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital recently declared a critical incident

Two of Norfolk's hospitals declared critical incidents last month as pressure intensified on the NHS ahead of one of the busiest times of the year, with council leaders warning the need for social care support was increasing.

And, with plummeting temperatures raising the likelihood of people needing hospital treatment and extra social care support, the government has announced extra money to help reduce pressure on the system - and free up hospital beds.

Norfolk County Council will get just under £2m from a £40m fund set up to speed up hospital discharge, boost social care provision and prevent avoidable hospital admissions.

Only Kent and Hampshire have been allocated more from the pot than Norfolk.

Norwich Evening News: Health minister Helen WhatelyHealth minister Helen Whately (Image: UK Parliament)

Helen Whately, minister of state for care, said: "We know winter will be challenging, which is why we started preparing earlier than ever before so people get the care they need. We’re supporting local councils with targeted funding to use where it’s needed most.

"With a focus on speeding up hospital discharge and increasing social care provision, this money will help the NHS care for people through the winter."

Norfolk County Council will add the money to the millions it has invested to ensure people get support and to help speed up discharge rates from hospitals.

The council's Conservative-controlled cabinet rubber-stamped its winter plan to cope with the seasonal pressures at a meeting in November.

READ MORE: More than 2,000 wait for vital care in Norfolk amid backlog

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for adult social services, said at that meeting: "By preparing for the winter, and making the proper investments in reablement and support for individuals and providers, we’re making sure Norfolk is well placed to meet those demands and provide the care and support our residents need."

Norwich Evening News: Brian Watkins, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group at County HallBrian Watkins, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group at County Hall (Image: Liberal Democrats)

But Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, had warned: "There is still a crisis in Norfolk’s adult care sector which is edging ever closer to collapse."