Improving OAP health must be 'absolute priority' as care falls short, warns Chris Whitty | The Sun

BOOSTING OAPs’ health should be an “absolute priority”, Sir Chris Whitty has said in his yearly report.

England’s chief medical officer said the NHS is not good enough for elderly Brits and too many are suffering as they age.

There are 14.5million over-60s in England and Wales – a quarter of the population – and the number is increasing as people live longer.

He said doctors should get better training to treat old people, small towns and villages made more accessible and families should make plans for relatives’ dying wishes.

It comes as a National Audit Office report warned ministers’ plans to fix social care are behind schedule and will need “significant work” to achieve meaningful change by 2025.

Sir Chris added that all ages must be encouraged to commit to “old fashioned” exercise and healthy eating to stave off disease.

He said: “There were really very few elderly people when the NHS was formed and now a significant proportion of the population are elderly and that is set to increase.

“As you get older you get sicker – that’s just a biological reality.

“Older people can and should be better served and we can make very significant progress with relatively straightforward interventions.”

His report said NHS services and walking and cycling paths should be improved in rural areas, where most older people live.

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Houses should be built with key facilities on the ground floor so people can easily live on one level as they get older, he suggested.

And he said doctors should avoid overloading patients with medications and families should be encourage to plan for death so it is clear what people’s wishes are when they near the end.

He added that the government and NHS must make it easier for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy, get a handle on obesity and squash smoking rates.

Sir Chris added: “There are lots of things people can do themselves which will delay the point where they first have disability and they are old fashioned things actually.

“Lots of exercise, mental stimulation and a social network, eating a reasonably balanced diet and stopping smoking if you do.

“Most people do know this but they often underestimate how big the health effects might be.

“We need to make it easier for people to make choices they probably want to make but find difficult.

“A happy side effect of this would be to help reduce pressure on the NHS and allow it more time to do other things.”

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