East Anglia: Country ‘not ready’ for rapid ageing of population

Sharp rise in number of over 85s

Sharp rise in number of over 85s - Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

The number of people aged over 85 is set to double across Norfolk and Suffolk; hitting almost 100,000 by 2030.

The official statistics, which are mirrored across the country, are being highlighted today as a House of Lords committee calls on the government to take urgent action to ensure the UK’s public services are able to cope.

In a report the committee says ministers are not properly addressing the challenge, meaning health and social care services will be unable to cope with the mass increase in demand about to come.

Chair of the Public Service and Demographic Change Committee Lord Filkin said: “As a country we are not ready for the rapid ageing of our population.

“By 2030, England will have double the number of people aged 85 and over than it had in 2010, and the large increase in our older population will have profound effects.”

In Norfolk two years ago there around 25,700 people in the over 85 age group. But the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate this will rise to 35,400 by 2020 and to 52,900 by 2030; a jump of 106pc.

In 2010 there 184,400 over 65s in the county, a number which is predicted to rise by 232,000 by 2020 and to 279,100 by 2030; an increase of 51pc.

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Meanwhile in Suffolk in 2010 there were 20,500 people in the 85-plus age group. That is predicted to rise to 28,100 by 2020 and 43,100 by 2030; a 110pc jump.

Two years ago in the county there were 143,300 in the 65-plus age group; predicted to rise 185,400 by 2020 and to 292,000 by 2030 - a rise of 60pc.

Lord Filkin added: “Health and social care need to be radically reformed; both are failing older people now.

“A big shift in services is essential so that the many more older people with long-term conditions can be well cared for and supported in their own homes and in the community and not needlessly end up in hospital. All health services and social care must be integrated to help achieve this.”

As well as the complete merger of health and social care services, the committee’s report says that these services should run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Furthermore, it says the government must come up with a white paper now setting out the impacts of the aging population on public services.

Then whoever wins the election in 2015, the report goes on, should set up two commissions; one to work with the private sector to improve pensions, savings and equity release and a second to decide exactly how health and social care should be funded and structured.

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