NHS spending is weighted heavily towards the elderly, with 50% of the total budget going to the over-65s. This is perhaps not surprising, especially given that most of an average individual’s healthcare costs are incurred in their final years. The problem is demographic: the number of people aged 85-plus, currently about 1.3 million, is set to almost triple by 2035.
Sadly, unless some medical breakthrough occurs, about 1 million of these will have dementia, requiring long-term, personalised care. With drug prescriptions soaring across the board (they tripled between 1995 and 2009), it is a safe bet that healthcare costs will at least double by 2035. Contributions by younger generations – who fund the NHS through their taxes – will therefore have to rise substantially to sustain the NHS in its present form.
This looks like a serious impending crisis. Any reforms must be carefully structured and monitored to ensure that limited resources are shared fairly by all, and that benefits also reach the younger and future generations who will have to bear the brunt of the costs.