Watt T, Raymond A, Rachet-Jacquet L The Health Foundation REAL Centre Insight report. Health in 2040: projected patterns of illness in England.: Health in 2040: projected patterns of illness in England - The Health Foundation; 2023

Unwin D, Delon C, Unwin J What predicts drug-free type 2 diabetes remission? Insights from an 8-year general practice service evaluation of a lower carbohydrate diet with weight loss. BMJ Nutr Prev Health. 2023;

Health in 2040: What does the future hold for primary care?

02 February 2024
Volume 35 · Issue 2


A recent study has predicted that the UK will see an increased burden of conditions such as anxiety, diabetes and chronic pain. How will primary care evolve to tackle these challenges?

A Health Foundation report published in July this year (Watt et al, 2023) suggests: 9.1 million people in England will be suffering from a major health condition by 2040, which is 2.5 million more than in 2019; an increasing proportion will stem from long-term conditions like heart disease, dementia, and diabetes; the three commonest conditions – anxiety and depression, chronic pain, and diabetes – will be predominantly managed in primary care, reinforcing the need to invest in general practice and community-based services.

The report's authors considered 20 health conditions that account for 65% of the burden of illness in England, and used an epidemiological model based on existing evidence and the impact of key risk factors – such as smoking, alcohol, obesity, diet, and exercise – on rates of illness by age and other characteristics. However, ‘[t]hey are not forecasts of the future. The value of projections is to support policymakers to both better prepare for the future and to act where policy change could lead to better outcomes.’

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