England is facing changing health demands due to an ageing population and the NHS must quickly adapt, says Public Health England. It has compiled what it calls “the most comprehensive picture” of the nation’s current health and future fitness. It shows England’s population is growing in size and people are living longer but not all in good health. While smoking rates may be decreasing, diabetes, obesity, dementia and mental health issues are on the rise.
The Health Profile for England report shows average life expectancy has reached 79.6 years for men and 83.2 for women. In 2017, there were 1.35 million people aged 85 and over in England – nearly three times more than in 1971. By 2031, it could exceed two million, says Public Health England. But the number of years that people live in poor health is also going up. Latest data suggests people can expect to live about 63 years in good health. That means men face about 16 years of ill health – a fifth of their life – and women more than 19 years or nearly a quarter of their life in poor health. Age-related diseases, such as dementia, have been increasing. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is already the leading cause of death in women and it looks set to overtake heart disease to soon become the biggest killer of men too. Hearing loss, sight loss and muscle and joint problems have also gone up. But heart attacks and strokes have gone down, as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have improved.