Refurbishing the NHS: UK Faces Challenges of an Aging Population

Improvements in hygiene, control of infectious diseases, better public health measures, sanitation and nutrition, plus housing developments, have all led to a drop in mortality rates and a rise in life expectancy. The UK, which claims to have the first public health service in the world, is now facing an aging population and needs to refurbish its National Health Service (NHS) in order to meet the new burden of more people in need of care.What challenges does an aging population pose to society? Does an aging population put more financial burdens on the NHS? What are the problems experienced by the older adults in the UK during the pandemic?

An aging population is an issue the world has to deal with in the near future. An increasing number of countries will be  This means more adults will be working for longer years to pay for pensions and healthcare, and there will be more pressure on governments to provide for older generations. The aging population is one of the most important social and demographic trends of the 21st century around the globe, especially in European countries. Britain’s aging population also poses economic, political and social challenges to society; challenges such as the need for more healthcare and social support, to mention a few. People are likely to experience more disease and disability problems due to an aging population, thus health and care systems must adapt themselves to the changing situation.

Aging Population Poses Huge Economic and Social Challenges

The 20th century saw great improvements in life expectancy due to general health measures which protected children from early death and saved lives in all age brackets. Hence, in the 21st century, societies have started to deal with an aging population. Universal healthcare, medical progress like treatment of heart disease and cancer, and changing lifestyles towards healthier habits, have led to an aging population. By 2019, life expectancy in England increased to 83.6 years for women and 79.9 years for men, but socio-economic inequalities  Aging has come at a cost: People are older, but they are living with a growing number of long-term diseases and are in need of more healthcare and cures.

Public Healthcare in Aging Societies

Recent figures show that money spent on public health in the UK is 12 times more than 70 years ago. Although the government is spending more money on the NHS, the waiting time for patients is still getting longer and some patients have to wait months for a surgical procedure. With more patients waiting  and new patients being added to the queue, the NHS has to endure the pressure. Based on data, the aging population is a major factor in the growing pressure on the health system. The average cost of treating patients aged around 65 in the NHS is 2.5 more than patients aged around 30; for those in the 90+ age bracket, the cost is seven times higher than the 30-year-old age bracket. The aging population is raising the cost of running the NHS, and the NHS, which is already suffering from a lack of sufficient funds and services, will no longer be able to meet public needs.


Aging Population Raises the Cost of Care for the NHS

The NHS will require a budget increase over the coming years to meet waiting times and maintain the quality of life for the aging population. An aging society leads to the higher cost of services provided by the NHS, and together with the rising cost of medicines, this will contribute to inflation in the healthcare system. This is argued in health economics as the cost of providing care that will rise the cost of living across the board. As compared to some other European countries, the UK government has spent less on health and, as a result, there are fewer beds, doctors, nurses, and services per patient across the country. Keeping the current standards requires a rise in spending by 3.3% per year until 2030, while modernising the NHS will require a  further 4% rise in spending during the same period. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed extra financial pressures on the NHS over the past year, claimed the lives of staff, and postponed numerous healthcare services, all adding up to more  costs and changes of plans in upgrading the health service.

The NHS Needs Steady Budget Rise to Address Aging Population

Despite an exhausted fleet of doctors and nurses, once the pandemic is over, the next major problem will be caring for patients who were put on the back-burner and did not receive treatment; at the same time, there are not enough healthcare professionals. To help the NHS meet the needs of an aging population in  the long-term, the government should pay more attention to social care in general. Older adults who receive good social care will most probably stay healthier and need less healthcare. Before the pandemic, social care and services were completely underfunded and understaffed across the country. Therefore, old people, and also disabled people, were left without adequate assistance and paid the price, especially during the pandemic. Without the support required by older adults, they will be at greater risk of experiencing difficulties, be more vulnerable to disease, and require more healthcare.

The UK Government Should Pay Attention to Social Care

Due to a decline in the death rate and better a health service over the last two centuries, the world has experienced a population boom. With more progress in the medical profession, many illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, are now curable and people are living longer lives; nevertheless, this phenomenon will have its economic, social and political benefits and costs. An aging population creates new challenges for any society, from the lack of workforce and pension issues, to increasing demands for health services and social care. The aging population is a challenge for the UK and if the government does not improve the way it has provided support to older people so far, then the National Health Service will struggle to meet the rising demand for resources and changing needs of patients. Addressing the healthcare and social needs of an old population is a challenging task for the government; thus, it has to renew its social care institutes to get society ready for a higher number of vulnerable people in need of assistance. Furthermore, the NHS must be modernised and expanded. It must also recruit more staff to be able to cope with the increasing pressures of an aging population in the future.

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