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10 November 2023
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CMO Report: We must adapt for an ageing population

Successive governments and professional bodies have not recognised the degree to which the population living in older age is concentrating geographically. The rise of multiple conditions in the same older person (multimorbidity) requires changes in medical training, NHS services and research. The fact that people are living longer compared to a century ago is a triumph of medicine and public health but an expansion of the period in ill health is not inevitable.

Today (10 November), England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Professor Chris Whitty, published his annual report. The report calls for more focus on how to maximise the independence and minimise the time in ill-health between reaching older age and the end of a person’s life.

The report describes how the government can maintain older people’s independence via two approaches:

  • Reduce disease, to prevent, delay or minimise disability and frailty.
  • Change the environment so that people can maintain their independence longer.

The report calls for research into multimorbidity, frailty and social care to be accelerated, and states that the medical profession needs to focus on maintaining generalist skills as doctors specialise.

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