“An ageing population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago. This has caused a surge in demand for medical care.
[Owl: this has been known for DECADES and should have been built-in to spending forecasts]
Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years. This has caused record levels of “bedblocking”; people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there because they can’t be supported at home.
[Owl: the NHS budget has NOT been protected! In real terms, funding has fallen enormously]
Staff shortages. While hospital doctor and nurse numbers have risen over the last decade, they have not kept pace with the rise in demand. Meanwhile 2016 saw record numbers of GP practices close, displacing patients on to A&E departments as they seek medical advice.
[Staff shortages are due to austerity cuts and an exodus of EU workers, who are not replaced. Changing nursing bursaries to loans had exacerbated this serious problem]
Lifestyle factors. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, a poor diet with not enough fruit and vegetables and not doing enough exercise are all major reasons for becoming unwell and needing to rely on our health services. Growing numbers of overweight children show this problem is currently set to continue.
[Many lifestyle problems are due to the government’s policies: allowing food and drink lobbies to dictate the sugar problem until it is too late, and not putting greater taxes on cigarettes and alcohol as this would reduce government income, shutting Sure Start services that promoted better parenting].