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Older Londoners concerned about difficulty accessing healthcare

New Age UK London research shows an older population anxious about the state of UK health services

An older person looks at a phone in their hand
Older Londoners are concerned about their ability to access healthcare when they need it

Research conducted by Age UK London shows that older Londoners are concerned about their ability to access healthcare when they need it. 

The research, published in a report titled ‘ was carried out with over 1,000 Londoners aged over 60 by Think Research and Strategy. The report considers a wide array of views and experiences, including health and wellbeing, finances, housing, public transport, public spaces, and family and community connections.

Health and wellbeing are the areas that have the most impact on the experiences of ageing for older Londoners. The majority (93%), feel that health and wellbeing is important, and this also reflects in the view that ‘good health’ is fundamental to having a better life in older age.

Concern about the future of the healthcare system is linked to a fear that it will become harder to access just at the point when they will need to rely on it most. Many mentioned that access challenges included low availability of appointments (e.g. GP); navigating digital health services (online booking, virtual appointments); and low awareness of support for longer-term health planning (e.g. care, assisted living, ad hoc services).

This reflects qualitative findings that older Londoners are finding it difficult to access health services in the current context of NHS pressures. When asked only 37% of older Londoners agree with the statement ‘I feel confident I will get quality healthcare when I need it’.


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This view changes however for those living in outer London where a third (33%) feel confident that they will get quality healthcare when they need it, compared with 42% of those living in inner London.

Those who are financially precarious, live in socially or private rented housing, live only on the State Pension and who have a disability or long-term health condition also have significantly fewer positive experiences than their peers.

The research also highlighted that experiences of older age are much more challenging for those in poor health, with more than a third (36%) not satisfied with their health and wellbeing. Sadly, this figure rises to more than half (52%) looking specifically at those living solely on a state pension and in social housing, indicating levels of unmet needs.

One respondent who was 80 years old said: “You wait 3-4 weeks before you can see a doctor, whereas in the old days you’d be there within hours. The healthcare system for the elderly hasn’t improved at all, which I think should be looked at.”

Abi Wood, CEO, Age UK London said: “Our research once again uncovers the many contrasts for older Londoners when it comes to caring for their health. We are concerned for those people who are living only on a pension and in social housing and those with disabilities who clearly face additional challenges when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

“Our research also showed the understandable concerns for all Londoners when it came to their health particularly when it came to accessing healthcare – especially at a time in their lives when it is needed most. In addition, the NHS must focus on making access to services offline to cater for the thousands of older people who are not digitally connected.”


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