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Healthcare and Society

Future Trends



  • If life expectancy continues to rise, it will have an impact on the number of care workers needed. According to the Office for National Statistics, over the last 25 years the fastest population increase has been amongst those aged 85 and over – in 1984 around 660,000 people were this age, by 2009 1.4 million were.

  • Councils throughout the UK are cutting or have cut their social care budgets and their volunteer sector grants, which will have an impact on the number of care staff working for local authorities.

  • Lack of money will also have an impact on the amounts Councils can afford to pay to fund people in private care homes. If families/residents cannot pay, and Councils cannot afford to fund the care, more homes will be forced to close. Recently, the largest care home operator, Southern Cross, had to make thousands of people redundant. 

  • Technology will have an increasing impact on various sectors – this ranges from electronic tags to prevent people getting lost (which might allow those with dementia to be cared for at home for longer), to ‘robot nurses’ which can clean up spillages, sense body temperatures and even distribute medicine and therefore free up nurses to do other tasks.

  • If the cost of childcare continues to rise, families might be forced to take their children out of nurseries, which again could have a knock-on effect on jobs. According to the childcare charity the Daycare Trust, the cost of a nursery place for a child aged over two has shot up by twice as much as the average wage in the last couple of years.

  • Increasingly, nurses might take on duties formerly carried out by junior doctors (eg administering drugs). On the other hand, there has been a lot of debate recently about whether nurses are losing their ability to 'care'

  • The Health and Social Care Bill, if passed, will lead to widespread changes. For instance, it is expected to lead to more than 20,000 management and administration staff being made redundant from health authorities, primary care trusts and the Department of Health. It is also suggested that some hospitals might be forced to close as GPs will be able to choose health care provider/s

  • In spite of all the proposed and possible job cuts, there are still likely to be staff shortages in certain occupations. Care is one of the most likely areas - Government rules on immigration of skilled workers from outside the European Union means that many migrant care workers may need to leave the country.

  • Other problem areas include dental nurses - recently a major chain of dental clinics has launched an apprenticeship scheme to promote the work area - and science  teachers. The government is offering £20,000 scholarships for the best and most enthusiastic physics graduates who want to become teachers


Read more about this job sector, including the skills that might be needed in the future, on the National Guidance Research Forum site