Archive for the ‘Ageing’ Category

By Alan Maryon-Davis, honorary professor of public health at Kings College London and past president of the Faculty of Public Health

WE love our NHS, despite its failings. We trust it, we depend on it and we cherish its fundamental principles of fairness and universality – free to all at the point of use.

Born out of Beveridge, midwifed by Bevan, the safe arrival of the infant NHS in the aftermath of war was nothing less than a revolution – the sort of massive change that could never happen today. It was huge – so big it dwarfed outer space.

Now, as we all know, the NHS is under threat – weighed down by the ageing population and high-tech hypertrophy, harried by small-state politicians, encircled by drooling marketeers  and asset-strippers.

The NHS is accused of being too monolithic, lumbering and unsustainable. The Government’s response has been to claw back millions of pounds and fire an explosive harpoon into its belly. The 2012 Act has torn into the flesh of the NHS, damaged many of its vital organs and put it on the critical list.

But it’s not dead yet. They have underestimated the power of the people. The NHS is healthcare of the people, by the people, for the people, all for one and one for all. This is why so many of us feel so passionate about it – and why we delighted in seeing it celebrated in the Olympics opening ceremony.

I believe the NHS at 65 is still, fundamentally, in good shape – in spite of all the ‘efficiency savings’, all the sniping and Cassandras, all the barbs, rug-pulling and clattering of bedpans in the corridors of Whitehall. The NHS can be nursed back to full health and vigour. Of course this requires political will – but political will is driven by the power of the people. And people power can be shaped and energised by the advocacy of those of us who feel strongly about defending the NHS and its fundamental principles.

We must seize this 65th birthday celebration to let everyone know that we will fight to make sure the NHS – the real NHS, not just the logo – is here to stay.

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Morning parallel session, at the Faculty of Public Health annual conference, on Wednesday 7 July.

Chaired by Laura Donnelly (Health Correspondent at the Sunday Telegraph), and panel members Dame Carol Black (National Director, Health Work and Wellbeing), Andrew Harrop (Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Age UK) and Yvonne Coull (Consultant to, and former Director, Queen Mary University Centre for the Older Person’s Agenda).

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By Jessica Becker

How can one extend work life while meeting the needs of an ageing workforce? What can be done to promote age-friendly communities? And how is the recession impacting on the care for the elderly?

Dame Carol Black, the National Director of Health Work and Wellbeing, Andrew Harrop, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Age UK, and Yvonne Coull, former director of Queen Margaret University Centre for the Older Person’s Pension Agenda,  discussed the future challenges of an ageing society at the FPH Annual Conference on Wednesday 7 July.

One of the big issues related to an ageing society is the question as to how to deal with an ageing workforce. Dame Carol Black said that while life expectancy is increasing, health expectancy has not kept up. She argued that in order to build a resilient workforce, support in education and an early, co-ordinated intervention is required. Andrew Harrop stressed that no society can afford to leave a high number of people from their mid-fifties relying on welfare because they are no longer fit for their jobs. Yvonne Coull therefore claimed for flexibility on the side of the employers to meet the demands and potential of older people.

An ageing population does not only impact on the work life, but also changes society. As the number of the elderly increase, communities need to adapt. One aspect of this change relates to the physical design of communities, for example when it comes to pavements, as Harrop explained: “When people feel safe, they are more confident to participate in the communities.” This participation has a positive impact, not least on the interaction between generations, Dame Carol pointed out, and should therefore be further encouraged.

Everyone agreed that the underlying issue affecting all of the discussed topics is the prospect of cutting funds. However, Yvonne Coull expressed the hope that the “older generation that is coming through is more active and more demanding than ever before,” and may therefore be able to lessen the effects of decreasing funding.

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