This week the UK media cannot decide if the problems of the NHS are caused by our aging population or by the obesity epidemic hitting our young. We at EML have the answer – it’s both!

These are simply two aspects of a challenge faced by us all – rapidly increasing life expectancy. In the last 50 years global life expectancy has increased by 50% – something totally unprecedented and in some ways similar to a massive meteorite hitting the Earth – we are all living through a period of seismic change. Breaking it down:

As UK average life expectancy sails past age 80 the fastest growing sector of the population are the 65+ age group. Many of those arriving in this age group never expected to be there and, particularly those Baby boomers who indulged in the ‘excesses’ of the 1960s, probably haven’t taken care of themselves. As a result they are today heavy users of the NHS.

Local government too were late in anticipating the growth in this sector and today find their community care services stretched.

At the other end of the spectrum the message is still not getting through to subsequent generations. The government recently told us that anyone born after 1963 should expect to work until at least aged 75. EML believe this is optimistic. We say that anyone in their 20s today can expect to ‘retire’ between the ages of 80 and 90 – but only when they can afford to do so. If they are to enjoy this later retirement they will need to look after our bodies.

The NHS doesn’t help matters. Setting expectations that , whatever happens, they will look after us – for free – and will always provide the best care available – are simply un-sustainable promises – its time to ‘get real’.

Anyone who suggests the Government can simply throw money at the problem is deluded. It comes from the belief that Governments can’t go bankrupt and it’s bonkers – look at Greece! The only money any Government has is ours and they can take it in three ways. They can tax the living (which they are already doing to the best of their ability!); they can tax the dead (they already pay 40%) or they can tax the ‘yet to be born’. I, for one, am no fan of asking future generations to pay for tidying up our mess!

The solution has to be to reduce demands n the NHS by encouraging each one of us to look after ourselves – spread the word!