The ageing population is having a devastating effect on the UK healthcare system, according to a series of new reports.
The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions said the number of GP appointments was steadily growing due to an ageing population, leaving surgeries struggling to cope with demand. By 2035 it predicts that GPs would be undertaking 433 million appointments a year, up from 300 million in 2008.
The authors of the report, titled Primary Care: Today and Tomorrow, concluded that growing numbers of elderly people meant that the GP service as it was now configured was "unlikely to be sustainable".
Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, has said that the service was already "at breaking point".
A further study in The Lancet has shown that the UK health system cannot cope with the rising numbers of people with long term medical conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and depression, and needs radical change.
A team of researchers looked at 1.75 million people in Scotland. They found that 42 per cent had one or more chronic conditions, and 23 per cent had two or more. People living with more than two long-term disorders are said to be suffering from ‘multimorbidity’.
Graham Watt, professor of general practice at Glasgow University, said that multimorbidity was a problem affecting many countries, not just Scotland.
"Any country with an ageing population is heading in this direction. All these countries are waking up to the problem.”
The report also stated that the care for those with multimorbidity is poorly co-ordinated and inefficient. At the moment, healthcare services, medical research and the education of medical students are dominated by a focus on individual diseases. The team wants a more personal approach to patients with complex problems.
Whilst health insurance will not cover chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis, it will cover the treatment of acute long-term conditions like cancer. For a further explanation take a look at our guide to chronic conditions, or compare private medical insurance policies online.
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