• Tuesday, December 05, 2023

HEALTH

Expected surge in ill health to pose challenges for NHS

The analysis reveals that by 2040 nearly one in five people will have health conditions like dementia and cancer, up from one in six in 2019

This growth is primarily driven by an ageing population, but it also includes a rising number of young individuals living with health issues – (Representative Image: iStock)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

England is expected to witness a surge in the number of people living with major health conditions, which will rise nine times faster than the healthy working-age population, according to projections by the Health Foundation.

The analysis reveals that by 2040 nearly one in five people will have health conditions like dementia and cancer, up from one in six in 2019.

The implications of this population shift are significant, requiring a radical shift in healthcare delivery with a greater focus on community care rather than hospital-based services, the BBC reported.

The projections suggest that by 2040, approximately 9.1 million people will have a major health condition, marking a 37% increase from the data of 2019.

This growth is primarily driven by an ageing population, but it also includes a rising number of young individuals living with health issues.

The report highlights conditions such as anxiety and depression, chronic pain, diabetes, and obesity will see particularly significant increases.

While fewer people smoking and lower cholesterol levels are making some positive contributions, obesity is a major factor driving the rise in illnesses, effectively offsetting these gains.

The ten conditions causing the most ill health are listed as chronic pain, diabetes, anxiety or depression, cancer, chronic kidney disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, constipation, and dementia.

Anita Charlesworth, the lead researcher, emphasises that the challenge of an ageing population with increasing levels of major illness is not unique to the NHS; other countries globally face similar pressures.

However, to meet this challenge effectively, the NHS will need to adapt to the rising demands for healthcare.

The growth in major illnesses will not only impact the health service but will also have broader implications for other public services, the labour market, and public finances.

Dr Layla McCay from the NHS Confederation which represents health managers, expresses concern over the projections, as they will lead to increased pressure and demand on the NHS.

Therefore, she calls for a greater focus on prevention to reduce the number of people living in ill health.

Additionally, she stresses the importance of investing in social care to support older individuals and promote overall well-being while fostering economic growth.

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