We all know that our population is living longer than ever before – that is great news, but it has real implications for the NHS.
As more people live into very old age, they may need complicated and expensive care from NHS teams over a period of many years, especially if they have a range of long-term conditions.
The number of people living past 85 years old in the UK rose by 25% between 2001-2011 – that is a positive story, but too many of the people in that age group are spending their later years in poor health. That is bad for them, and comes at a cost for the NHS.
To illustrate that - on average, an 85-year-old man will need treatment costing almost £8,000 a year, which is about seven times more than a typical man in his late 30s.
Our population is not just ageing, it is growing too. The 1991 Census recorded 174,697 people living in Portsmouth – by 2011 the population was just over 205,000, a rise of 17% in two decades. During that time the number of people living in Fareham grew from 99,000 to 111,000 people, Gosport saw a 10% rise, and it is a similar story in East Hampshire. More people, and more older people, means rising demands on the NHS.
We also face some challenges on a scale which simply have not been seen in the past. Diabetes is already a major public health problem, and that problem is growing. For example, in less than a decade, one out of every 11 people living in the Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire area will be living with diabetes.
The NHS still has some of the same basic structures as it did in 1948 when it was set up – for instance, GP practices are often still independent organisations, and many services are still almost entirely hospital-based. However, the society around the NHS is changing rapidly and it needs to decide how to respond to those changes.
So how should the local NHS respond? Tell us: “Your Big Health Conversation – talk to us”