20 May 2019
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.
Many governments have increased funding for the NHS which is commendable, however, succeeding in increasing healthy life expectancy (HLE) across society would be truly remarkable. It has been common for social commentators to note that we have only ever had a ‘National Illness Service’. The Prime Minister’s HLE goal seeks to change this and will require the NHS to promote good health and not just treat ill health. We suggest that this ambition to improve the health of the nation must be central to the NHS’s role in the future and to the government’s expectations of it.
The Prime Minister’s announcement to give the NHS a long-term funding plan creates an historic opportunity for the NHS to make a significant shift in its approach to the ageing population. We believe the NHS should take a comprehensive and strategic approach to healthy ageing with a focus on prevention and maintaining independence as opposed to seeing older people as a collection of diseases and viewing old age as a time of frailty and decline.