Ageing Population

“By 2032, the number of people aged over 65 is expected to grow by more than a third and the number of people aged over 85 is expected to double.’’ – Office for National Statistics

Over the next years, the population will continue to age so as the workforce. This most likely will increase the strain on social care and the demand for NHS services.

Future Pressures

Although no government will shut down the services (or not if it wants to stay in the government), no government is likely to have enough funds to continue to support the service as it is now. 

The result may lead to care being rationed.

“By 2030, the Government will have to be taxing more or spending less. The gap between taxes raised and expected spending by 2050 is estimated to be £340 billion.’’- Institute of Public Policy Research

Situation Now

Vital NHS operations and treatments are being increasingly rationed in England, including hip and knee replacements as well as drugs for conditions such as arthritis. The NHS is already struggling to keep up with demand.

“Unfortunately, the NHS does not have unlimited resources and ensuring patients get high-quality care against a backdrop of spiralling demand and increasing financial pressures is one of the biggest issues CCGs face.’’ – said Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners

What’s The Plan?

Lifestyle Factors – Staying healthy is essential to our quality of life. Good physical health allows us to sustain an active and well-balanced life. It helps us to remain independent, be more productive, contribute to economic progress, live longer, prevent chronic diseases and long term illnesses. Therefore, reduce demand for health and social care which is part of ‘the NHS 5 Year Forward View’ plan.

‘’Unless we succeed as a society in increasing the number of years lived in good health and free of disability, it will be difficult to support the increases in expenditure (public and private) on health and social care. If nothing changes, the IFS and the Health Foundation have estimated that healthcare spending will have to increase by 3.3% and social care spending by 3.9% every year for the next 15 years, just to meet increased demand (Charlesworth & Johnson, 2018). In particular, as the baby boomers cohort (those born 1946-1965) enter later life, the country is about to face a significant uptick in the number of people needing more health and social care. In 15 years we will have 1.2 million more people aged 85 than today (ONS projections, 2017). 

Current pressure on the NHS and social care will only get worse unless more urgent action is taken to support this cohort and those currently in mid-life to stay healthier for longer.’’- Ageing Better

You can find more information about the NHS long-term plan here: NHS England

Will We Need To Increase Taxes?

“We are finally coming face to face with one of the biggest choices in a generation. If we are to have a health and social care system which meets our needs and aspirations, we will have to pay a lot more for it over the next 15 years. This time we won’t be able to rely on cutting spending elsewhere – we will have to pay more in tax. But it is a choice: higher taxes and a health and social care system which meets our expectations and improves over time, or taxes at current levels and a more constrained health service delivering less than we have become accustomed to.” 

”This means raising taxes by between 1.6 and 2.6% of GDP – that’s between £34 billion and £56 billion in present-day terms, equivalent to between £1,200 and £2,000 per household, projected net income growth of about £8,500 per household.”- Paul Johnson, director of IFS.

Help the NHS

Whilst it’s impossible to plan accurately for any future events nevertheless our expectation for health services is growing. 

Here are some simple things you can do to help save the NHS:

1. Increase the use of online services – If available to you try to use the NHS online services. You’ll help reduce the need for calls or face-to-face appointments. Before you make an appointment to see your GP, think about what other services might be able to help.

Keep in mind: You can also order repeat prescriptions online.

2. Educate yourself – use NHS 111 Online – where you can find out more about your main symptom, get advice on self-care or get NHS medical help near you.

In 2016/17, more than nine million people were sent home from A&E after being given advice they could have obtained from a pharmacist or by dialling 111.’’

3. Visit a pharmacy for advice and treatment for minor conditions that do not need a prescription. 

4. Visit a sexual health service for testing for sexually transmitted infections and contraception advice.

5. Don’t miss appointments or cancel at short notice. If you know you’re not going to be able to make an appointment let your doctor know as soon as possible.

6. Volunteer – Volunteering for the NHS is a great way of giving back to the service.

Find out more about NHS volunteering options on NHS England’s website.

7. Keep yourself healthy. Remember to stay active. Being active can help you improve your mental health and reduce demand for social care. 

Have a look at ‘Get fit for free’ NHS website for tips on how to get fit for free.

Read More: ‘How To Plan For Aging’

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