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NHS reforms do not address ageing population

Coordinated policy is needed to manage the UK’s ageing population, a new report suggests. The authors criticise NHS reforms as inadequate for tackling this problem, labelling the changes a “reaction to a broken system”.

Population growth equivalent to a city the size of Birmingham will need to be created every year between now and 2035 in order to maintain a demographic balance with people of working age and the UK’s ageing population, according to a new report by Cass Business School, City University London.

The old age dependency ratio is currently at 4:1, but is set to fall to 2.5:1 by 2035, the report shows. The authors call for government to focus on policy reform to help slow the onset of debilitating illness and disability rather than extending unhealthy life.

The report recommends an end to ring-fencing NHS and social care services, with more integration between the two sectors, better support for unpaid carers and opposes Dilnot’s proposal to set a cap on care costs.

Professor Les Mayhew said: “Incentives for healthier lifestyles such as higher taxes on harmful products such as cigarettes, a stronger role for  public health providers and potentially national insurance rebates based on individual health, are more effective methods for reducing the long term cost to the taxpayer  of an ageing population than current policies.

“One of the greatest anomalies in the current system is that health and care providers do not have linked information systems. Individual records cannot be joined up easily leading to delays, inefficiency and sub-standard levels of care. The latest health reforms do not address this problem.

“It is important that the reforms underway in the field of health and social care enable the transition to progress smoothly and they do not conflict with one another. We are not confident that this will happen and some of the reforms are either missing the point or are simply a reaction to a broken system.”

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