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A new report, published by the Health Foundation, warns that 9.1 million people will be living with major illness by 2040, which represents a 2.5 million increase compared to 2019.

This rise means the number of people living in ill health is set to climb from almost one in six of the adult population in 2019, melatonin trip report to nearly one in five by 2040.

On the other hand, the number of healthy working-age people will increase by just four percent.

While most of the rise is being driven by the ageing population, there will also be a growing number of young people living with health problems, according to the report.

Furthermore, the Health Foundation warned this would have “significant” implications for the NHS, other public services and the public finances.

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The think tank added these projections would require a radical shift, with more care in the community, rather than hospitals.

It said: “Much of the projected growth in illness relates to conditions such as anxiety and depression, chronic pain and diabetes, which are predominantly managed outside hospitals in primary care and the community. 

“This reinforces the need for investment in general practice and community-based services, focusing on prevention and early intervention to reduce the impact of illness and improve the quality of people’s lives.”

The Health Foundation also shared this increase would more than offset the gains made by fewer people smoking and lower cholesterol levels.

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The new analysis is a part of a four-year project led by the Health Foundation’s Real Centre in partnership with the University of Liverpool, focusing on levels of ill health in the adult population in England up to 2040. 

Anita Charlesworth, Director of the Real Centre, said: “The challenge of an ageing population with rising levels of major illness is not unique to the NHS.

“Countries across the globe face the same pressures. How well prepared we are to meet the challenge is what will set us apart.

“Over the next two decades, the growth in major illness will place additional demand on all parts of the NHS.

“But the impact will extend well beyond the health service too – and has significant implications for other public services, the labour market and the public finances.”

The expert added that while living with a major health condition would not necessarily exclude everyone from the workforce, many would be excluded.

Toby Watt, Lead Economist from Real Centre, said that these estimates are merely projections, not forecasts.

However, they are designed to inform policymakers and prepare them for the future.

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