UK 'underprepared for ageing population'
Published on 27 February 2013 11:30 AM
Britain's dramatically ageing population is becoming a growing concern after experts said the country is 'worryingly underprepared'.
A Lords committee has been canvassing a series of experts about the issue, with many of them warning about the scale of the challenge the country will face.
It is thought that by 2030 the number of over-65s will have increased by 50%, while the number of over-85s will have doubled.
Professor Sarah Harper from the University of Oxford predicted that half of the children born since 2007 will live beyond 103.
She also estimated that 8 million people alive now will make it to a century.
Prof Harper told the committee: 'One of the things we did at Oxford was do some simple modelling to extrapolate it to Europe, which said there will be 127 million people who are going to make it to 100 throughout the EU.'
When the complete findings are revealed next month, the Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change will warn that the ageing population will put pressure on the NHS, the care system and other public services.
A number of experts included in the inquiry have highlighted that the UK has not done enough so far to make sure public services are organised in a 'robust and efficient way' ahead of the challenge.
14,500 people in UK now aged over 100
The findings have also shown how much the population has aged already.
Back in 1961 there were 600 people aged 100 or over, but that has now been estimated to have grown to 14,500.
The Office for National Statistics believes that by 2060 this number could hit 456,000.
Committee chairman Lord Filkin said this was the first Parliament investigation into whether the country is ready for an ageing population.
He indicated then that the signs were not good, saying: 'The evidence we have received so far suggests that we are worryingly underprepared.'
Lord Filkin added that witness after witness said the Government has not done enough to ensure services are efficient.
He highlighted evidence that 29% of patients admitted to hospital could have been given sufficient treatment elsewhere.
With NHS costs rising for every patient in hospital Lord Filkin warned that failures like this will be 'simply unaffordable' in future.
An older generation more 'energetic than any time in history'
Age UK's Charity Director General Michelle Mitchell welcomed the Lords Committee into Public Services and Demographic Change. She said, 'Older people are challenging outdated stereotypes, redefining the nature of old age for the 21st century. In particular, people over the age of 85 are now the fastest growing demographic group in the UK.
'And while there are challenges of how to adapt services to meet the needs of older people, there are also tremendous opportunities in an older generation that is fitter, more engaged and energetic than at any other previous time in history.
'In having such a breadth of scope, the Lords Committee has compiled the evidence base to take the long, expert view on demographic change. This will help to address public service reform on health, care, housing, income and age equality issues, which if thoughtfully integrated and effectively delivered, will create the foundation point for a good quality of life in old age.'
Copyright Press Association 2013