Intended for healthcare professionals


Population ageing: the timebomb that isn’t?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 12 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6598

Re: Population ageing: the timebomb that isn’t?

The changing age structure of the population is usually perceived in the way suggested by Spijker and MacInnes, an increasing proportion of people who through age are not earning but are dependent on society for social and healthcare needs. This perspective neglects the fact that the shape of the population is affected by a cohort of people, the baby boomers, born in the two decades following the end of World War II.

As this cohort ages it is passing through a period when the incidence of age-related diseases increases but the total sum of comorbidity and the frailty of extreme old age do not preclude active investigation and treatment. Cancers are one obvious example. The increasing impact of this cohort on diagnostic and therapeutic services is readily apparent and will continue over the next two decades so the capacity of these services must necessarily increase.

There is no hint of this being discussed in current debates on health policy.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 November 2013
S. Michael Crawford
Consultant Medical Oncologist
Airedale General Hospital
Skipton Road, Steeton, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD20 6TD