An ageing population and A&E

20 October 2017
What was claimed

The number of people going to Accident and Emergency is rising every year.

Our verdict


What was claimed

We have an ageing population.

Our verdict


“The challenge the health service faces is that demand on it is growing all the time. We have an ageing population, more and more people seeking treatment, the number of people going into A&E departments every year is rising up and up and up.”

Chris Grayling, 19 October 2017

“The population in the UK is getting older” according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 18% of people were aged 65 and over and 2% were aged 85 and over in 2016.

The proportion of people aged 65 and over rose from 14% in 1976 and by 2046, the ONS predicts that almost 25% of the population will be over 65.

In contrast the proportion of young people in the population is falling. People aged 15 and under fell from 25% of the population in 1976 to 19% in 2016. By 2046 the ONS predicts they will make up 18% of the population.

23.4m people went to Accident and Emergency in England between October 2016 and September 2017. This was 32,000 more people than the year before.

15.3 million of these people attended major A&E departments. This was around 12,000 more than the year before.

The number of people going to A&E has generally been increasing in recent decades.

The UK government is only responsible for the NHS in England. There is separate data for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Correction 30 October 2017

The piece previously said "By 2016 the ONS predicts they will make up 18% of the population." This was amended to "By 2046".

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