Health Services: Older People

Health written question – answered on 29th November 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of progress towards preparing the NHS to deal with the implications of an ageing population.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

The number of older people in the United Kingdom is projected to rise substantially over the coming decades and this increase will have a significant effect on health spending. The Department has been and will continue to monitor the implications for the national health service of this pressure. Last month, the Department committed to going further and faster on improving the care of older people, through four key priorities:

Giving Britain some of the best survival rates in Europe for the big killer diseases: cancer, stroke, heart, liver and respiratory disease (mortality);

Building a health and care system where quality of care is as important as quality of treatment (care);

Dramatically improving the care for people living with long-term conditions like diabetes, asthma or arthritis—who currently account for more than half of GP appointments and nearly 3A of hospital admissions (long-term conditions); and

Transforming our care for people with dementia so we become one of the best countries in Europe to grow old (dementia).

Improving efficiency and productivity in the NHS and social care is crucial to coping with the demographic challenge of an increasing older population. The Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme will support the NHS to do this by focusing on areas where it is possible to increase quality and productivity simultaneously.

The local NHS is best placed to identify the scale of challenge and opportunities for making savings whilst maintaining quality. Each local health economy is working towards their own vision of health system transformation to make efficiency savings whilst continuing to provide quality care to their populations. In addition, there are a limited number of national QIPP work streams, chosen to cover areas in which there is substantial gain to be made from changing the way things are done and where the degree of challenge in making change is sizeable.

In the first full year of delivery, the NHS has delivered strongly, with efficiency savings of £5.8 billion reported in 2011-12. At the same time, key quality and access ambitions have been maintained or improved:

infection rates at their lowest since mandatory surveillance was introduced; lowest ever level of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for their treatment and both standards met each month; and performance measures on accident and emergency, cancer care, and dentistry waiting times have all been met.

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