Report shows that, without reform, Scotland will need an extra 3,500 hospital beds to cope with ageing population
SCOTLAND’S NHS needs to find a further 3500 hospital beds to manage rocketing demand unless it changes the way it delivers care, a new study by Our Scottish Future reveals today.
The report comes as the think-tank announces that its Health Commission will examine how reform of NHS Scotland, -and greater cooperation across the UK health services – can help doctors and nurses cope with the immense extra pressure they face over coming decades.
Today’s report, based on population modelling, reveals the scale of the impact of Scotland’s ageing population on hospital services, if current rates of attendance continue.
The number of people aged over 75 is set to soar from 469,000 today to 774,000 by the early 2040s.
OSF’s modelling reveals that if the rate of elderly patients attending hospital stays at current levels, the total number of days every year they will spend in hospital will go up from 2.59 million to 3.9 million by 2040.
This will require 3,500 more hospital beds – equivalent to constructing a new 450 bed hospital every two and half years for the next twenty years, the report calculates.
To maintain current staff to patient ratios, the increase would also require Scotland to employ an extra 2,300 hospital doctors and a further 17,000 nurses.
Given that the public purse will not be able to afford this spending, the paper backs calls made by BMA Scotland and other health leaders for a ‘national conversation’ on the future of the Health Service in Scotland.
Today, Our Scottish Future confirms that its own Health Commission, led by Cancer Specialist Professor David Kerr, will set out its own ideas over the coming months on how the NHS can survive.
Our Scottish Future director Eddie Barnes comments : “There is plenty of innovation taking place in Scotland, but to accelerate the reform required, we need a national debate on the steps that need to be taken. Our Scottish Future is therefore setting up a Health Commission this winter to propose our own ideas for change.”
“By reforming our health care system so it is designed to prevent disease and is geared to deliver personalised care and precise treatment for people throughout their lives, we can help the NHS cope with the surging demand it will face over the coming decades whilst improving the populations’ health outcomes.”
“We must also find was to share best practice across all the nations of the UK. Healthcare is not a competition: we need to work together across the UK health systems if we’re to make the change that’s needed.”
Our Scottish Future Health Commission Remit:
There are plenty of complaints about the shortfalls of Scotland’s NHS, and plenty of demands for more funding as a way of addressing these problems.
But more funding will not solve the NHS’s challenges. We believe fundamental change is necessary.
Our current healthcare model is top-down and reactive. In Scotland alone, nearly £20bn is spent every year coping with the impact of the illness and disease. We need to reimagine healthcare, recognizing that today’s disease burden must be managed more thoughtfully at a population level and more proactively, placing the patient at the centre. Health is at the start of a continuum that progresses inevitably to disease and death. By concentrating efforts at the health end of the spectrum, huge disease-generated costs can be avoided. Just as healthcare in the 20th century delivered remarkable increases in life expectancy through advances in nutrition, sanitation, and infection control, so we must now refit the NHS in Scotland to deliver similar strides forward in the 21st.
Our three watchwords are the “3Ps”: prevention, personalisation and precision. By reforming our health care system so it is designed to prevent disease and by giving personal and precise support for people throughout their lives, we can help the NHS cope with the surging demand it will face over the coming decades. It will require leveraging new technology, such as AI, data management, and genetics. And it will involve new partnerships both between the public and private sectors and all the nations of the UK.
This should not be difficult, for many of the answers to our healthcare challenge are already being practised across the UK, either here in Scotland or elsewhere. We just need to make sure best practice is identified and adopted across the country. It is time we came together to do so.
The Our Scottish Future Health Commission will seek to do this work. We will:
· highlight the consequences of “business as usual”
· examine best practice in Scotland and across the UK in health innovation and technology
· recommend new thinking on how Scotland can make the shift from a reactive, unsustainable sickness service to a preventative, sustainable and modern 21st health care system.
· examine specifically at how these changes can improve outcomes in the things we care about the most:
- Reducing waits for GP appointments
- Cancer treatment
- Improving A+E waiting
- Hospital beds
- Community care for the elderly