Chris Whitty warns of looming health crisis over rural elderly

Chris Whitty warns of looming health crisis over rural elderly who risk missing out on NHS care

  • Chief medical officer Professor Chris Witter has issued a dire warning to elderly
  • Those suffering from serious illness could be left behind with no access to NHS
  • This will happen unless urgent action is taken, he said, to address looming crisis
  • Pandemic is an ‘urgent priority’ but other diseases offer major challenge, he said

Elderly people suffering from serious illnesses will be left behind with no access to the NHS unless urgent action is taken, Professor Chris Whitty said last night.

The chief medical officer called for the Government and health bosses to ‘get ahead of’ the looming health crisis.

While acknowledging that the pandemic is an ‘urgent priority’, Prof Whitty warned other diseases pose a major public health challenge, particularly for the elderly.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty speaks during a press conference on Wednesday. He has warned that elderly people suffering from serious illness could be left behind with no access to the NHS if no action is taken to ‘get ahead of’ the looming health crisis

He said there was an increasing concentration of older people living in semi-rural and coastal areas with poorer healthcare provision. 

Prof Whitty said: ‘We need to get ahead of it, or we will be faced by an entirely predictable problem of delivery of service to those in greatest need. 

‘There is wide variation in ill health across the country, and much of this is avoidable.

‘It is possible to raise the health outcomes of the least healthy closer to the outcomes of the healthiest – we should be aiming for that.’

The chief medical officer used an annual report to warn that Britain will feel the effects of the pandemic on health for years to come. 

It details how life expectancy rises have slowed, as in other developed countries. 

Although mortality rates are falling across the UK, data shows the rate of deaths caused by dementia is increasing.

Life expectancy was the lowest in north Cumbria, County Durham, and areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire in 2019. 

The average age of death was between 74 and 79 in these places, compared with between 81 and 85 in some southern areas.

The chief medical officer’s independent report, which has been published annually for the past 150 years, presents a broad overview of the nation’s health.

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