NHS Faces Soaring Elderly Care Costs, Academics Say

The UK's NHS and social care system will face soaring elderly care costs in the next decade, academics warn. New research shows a 25% rise in seniors needing care from 2015 to 2025.

NHS Faces Soaring Elderly Care Costs, Academics Say
The UK's NHS and social care system will face soaring elderly care costs in the next decade, academics warn. New research shows a 25% rise in seniors needing care from 2015 to 2025.

By 2025, there will be 2.8 million people over the age of 65 needing social and nursing care, with many no longer able to live independently due to a growing number of dementia cases. That figure signifies a 25% increase from 2015 and equates to about 560,000 people.

According to the report, dementia-related disability is expected to rise by 40% in people aged 65 to 84. Other forms of disability is expected to rise by 31%.

The report suggests that unless elderly care is reformed, many people with lower incomes will no longer be able to live independently.

"The societal, economic, and public health implications of our predictions are substantial," said Maria Guzman-Castillo, lead author of the report. "In particular, our findings draw attention to the scale of societal costs associated with disability in the coming decade."

Spending on long-term care, including care workers and medical supplies, will need to increase "considerably by 2025," the report says.

"This situation has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system," the report reads.

As cases of cardiovascular disease decline, the number dementia cases increases as people live longer.

The paper calls for more care homes and cash benefits or tax allowances for home or informal care. According to the report, those in need of care and their families "pay an estimated 40% of the national cost of long-term care from income and savings."

But the paper also calls for Britons to take preventative measures. Drinking, poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise can all contribute to heart disease and dementia, the report says.

"We seriously need to protect the future of older citizens through prevention," says Guzman-Castillo.

The paper estimates that the number of people over the age of 65 will reach 12.4 million by 2025, and by that time, life expectancy will rise by 1.7 years.

The number of seniors with dementia is also expected to increase from 468,000 in 2015 to 699,000 by 2025. Other disabilities will also affect seniors, including diabetes, mental health issues, musculoskeletal diseases and other chronic conditions.

"We think they are not looking at this," said Guzman-Castillo, referring to British politicians. "There is a gap between the academic community and the government."

Royal College of GPs Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard says there is a desperate need for more investment in social care and the NHS.

"It's a great testament to medical research, and the NHS, that we are living longer – but we need to ensure that our patients are living longer with a good quality of life," Stokes-Lampard said. "For this to happen, we need a properly funded, properly staffed health and social care sector with general practice, hospitals and social care all working together – and all communicating well with each other, in the best interests of delivering safe care to all our patients."

The NHS is also facing a potential £1 billion spike in costs for retired British expats who return to the country every year, according to a recent report. Pensioners, many of which receive health care from the European Union agreement, may be forced back home to receive their health care.

The health charity states that the cost would be more than double what the NHS pays now for these individuals.

The NHS will need to accommodate the 190,000 pensioners that may return to the country to receive health care after Brexit. The report also finds that the NHS will also need to increase the number of hospitals in the country to accommodate more people.

Reports suggest that two new hospitals will need to be built to offer adequate beds for potential patients.

The addition of expats reentering the country to receive health care and soaring elderly care costs will need to be accommodated in the NHS' budget. The authors of the report suggest that Brexit negotiators try and find a way to allow health care to British expats living in the EU.

Another issue is migrant workers from the European Union help ensure that the U.K. does not suffer from staffing problems. The NHS relies on these medical professionals to staff their hospitals. Brexit will cause the NHS to be forced to find new staff to fill their ranks or negotiate to allow medical workers and nurses to remain in the country.

Britain's cancellation of EU member fees may help the NHS offset rising costs, but to what degree remains unknown.

Date Of Update: 21 June 2017, 03:19