The changing health needs of the UK population

Martin McKee, Karen Dunnell, Michael Anderson*, Carol Brayne, Anita Charlesworth, Charlotte Johnston-Webber, Martin Knapp, Alistair McGuire, John N. Newton, David Taylor, Richard G. Watt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The demographics of the UK population are changing and so is the need for health care. In this Health Policy, we explore the current health of the population, the changing health needs, and future threats to health. Relative to other high-income countries, the UK is lagging on many health outcomes, such as life expectancy and infant mortality, and there is a growing burden of mental illness. Successes exist, such as the striking improvements in oral health, but inequalities in health persist as well. The growth of the ageing population relative to the working-age population, the rise of multimorbidity, and persistent health inequalities, particularly for preventable illness, are all issues that the National Health Service (NHS) will face in the years to come. Meeting the challenges of the future will require an increased focus on health promotion and disease prevention, involving a more concerted effort to understand and tackle the multiple social, environmental, and economic factors that lie at the heart of health inequalities. The immediate priority of the NHS will be to mitigate the wider and long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it must also strengthen its resilience to reduce the impact of other threats to health, such as the UK leaving the EU, climate change, and antimicrobial resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1979-1991
Number of pages13
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10288
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for the LSE–Lancet Commission on the future of the NHS was granted by the LSE Knowledge and Exchange Impact (KEI) fund, which was created using funds from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). The funder of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


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