Health secretary Andy Burnham has thanked NHS and social care staff for their “exceptional bravery and commitment” during Britain’s “big freeze”.

In a message, Mr Burnham said the freezing weather may continue in some parts of the country, presenting extra challenges for frontline staff who go “beyond the call of duty” to provide care to people who might otherwise have been unable to access services.

He praised the “passion, dedication and professionalism” of staff members throughout the weather-related difficulties.

“The resilience the NHS as a whole has demonstrated is a tribute to all those who work for it. It also shows how the strength of planning for swine flu and winter pressures has brought wider dividends this year,” he said.

“For those of you contending with transport disruptions and school closures, just getting to work will have been a challenge.

“So to all of you who have gone the extra mile, and to all of you who I know will continue to treat patients and to care for people using social care services to the very best of your abilities during the rest of winter, I would like to offer my sincere thanks and ongoing support.”