The government is set to miss key targets for keeping older people healthy for longer and must act now, according to a new report.
The report by the House of Lords’ science and technology committee warns that the government’s target of ensuring people have five extra healthy years of life by 2035 will not be met.
It also finds that Covid-19 has tragically further highlighted health inequalities, showing how poor health makes people more vulnerable to further health risks.
Even before Covid-19 the ‘fragmentation of care contributes in many cases to even poorer health in older age’.
It adds there are ‘shocking differences’ in healthy life expectancy amongst ethnic groups and in the most deprived groups, who spend almost 20 years longer in poor health than the least deprived.
For women, the report warns that ‘healthy life expectancy at birth has decreased in the past decade’, whilst for men improvements in healthy ageing have slowed.
Furthermore, the report finds that healthy living messages are not having sufficient impact and urges more targeted public health advice, including making interventions early and throughout life.
The report recommends assigning each older person a designated clinician who will have oversight of the patient’s care as a whole and who can coordinate across multi-disciplinary teams.
It also recommends that the MHRA ensure older people are more frequently included in clinical trials and show greater willingness to approve trials which target multiple conditions.
‘The committee found that the government needs to urgently address the key issues of reducing health inequalities, implementing health system reforms and promoting lifestyle changes,’ said committee chair, Lord Patel.
‘The government must therefore act now to increase support for the exciting new scientific research that targets the underlying processes of ageing. Treatments are being developed that could improve health without the need to treat multiple separate illnesses. Furthermore, technologies can be better utilised to help people live independently for longer.’
Photo Credit – Centre for Ageing Better