Long-Term UK Care Provisions Falling Behind Other Countries

In Family, Healthcare, Individual by Stephen Ellis

Taking a look at the worrying signs as the UK falls behind other comparable nations when it comes to long-term care provisions.

The UK is not keeping up with other nations when it comes to the provision of long-term care, a new analysis has revealed. According to the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – which analyses healthcare provisions across the world’s wealthiest nations – while access to healthcare overall in the UK is strong, access is more limited when it comes to long-term care.

In the UK, the cost of institutional care for an individual with severe long-term care needs is the equivalent of almost two times the median disposable income for people of retirement age. However, despite this reality, UK government spending on long-term care is below the OECD average.

It’s a situation that’s exacerbated by the fact that the formal long-term care workforce has been declining over time. This has left many individuals having to rely on informal carers, of which nearly one in five (18%) are aged 50 or over – the fourth highest number seen among the 18 nations analysed by the OECD.

The OECD report also reveals that many older individuals in the UK are not in as good health as their counterparts in comparable countries. Indeed, just 50% of women and 65% of men in the UK are disability free after the age of 65.

Health inequalities exist in the UK

Furthermore, there are large health inequalities among older people in the UK, with almost half (48%) of adults aged 65 and over from the lowest 20% in terms of income reporting ill-health. This compares to 25% of adults in the highest income quintile. Dementia prevalence is also high, at 17.5 per 1,000 people.

It’s a similarly worrying story when it comes to obesity levels and alcohol consumption in the UK, with 64% of adults overweight or obese, and British people consuming over a litre more pure alcohol than the OECD average.

In terms of available healthcare professionals per capita, the UK has 2.8 doctors and 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people. This compares with OECD averages of 3.5 doctors and 8.8 nurses per 1,000 people.

However, the OECD report also revealed some positive news for UK citizens, notably that the UK spends almost 10% of its GDP on health, which is approximately one percentage point higher than the OECD average. Furthermore, this spending is projected to reach 11.4% by 2030. According to the OECD, such a level of spending would afford strong access to healthcare overall, with low levels of inequality. In other words, if the level of government spending continues, the UK is set to improve its healthcare access standing globally.

Nevertheless, the OECD analysis makes for alarming reading – especially when you consider that the UK has an ageing population, which could potentially offset the additional government spending that’s planned.

With this in mind, individuals should take their long-term care access seriously and make plans to ensure they receive the medical attention they need in later years.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.