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Older people in a falls prevention class

Ideas for the NHS long-term plan

NHS England should be making bold commitments to healthy ageing in its long-term plan. Ageing Better suggests ideas for actions it could take and some areas for action with others.

To achieve the Prime Minister's ambition for better health in our society, collective action across government, public services, the private sector and communities will be needed.

The Prime Minister declared one of the most significant ambitions for better health in our society in her recent announcement of the government’s mission to 'ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest'.

To do so will require a comprehensive strategy and collective action across government, public services, the private sector and communities. The Centre for Ageing Better looks forward to working with government and others over the next ten years to realise this ambition.

Our increased longevity represents a huge success in public health and medical advances. However, despite this achievement in increased life expectancy, a significant proportion of those extra years are spent in poor health.

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 midlife to stay healthier for longer.

NHS England has a key role to play both in helping to stop or slow declines in individuals’ health and capacity and, for those who have already experienced decline, to support and enable them to maintain their functional ability so they can continue to participate in society and do the things they value.

Ideas for the NHS long-term plan from the Centre for Ageing Better

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