A new report from Public Health Wales has shown that the number of people with a longstanding illness is expected to increase in line with the rise in unemployment following Coronavirus, unless reparative interventions are implemented.
Based on an estimated increase in the unemployment rate in Wales from 3.8 per cent in 2019 to around seven per cent in 2020, projections from Public Health Wales suggest that the proportion of the population suffering from longstanding illnesses could increase by around four per cent over the next three years from 46.4 per cent prior to the pandemic to 50.3 per cent in 2022/23.
There could be a greater increase in the percentage of adults living with limiting longstanding illnesses from 18.1 per cent prior to the pandemic to 24.4 per cent in 2022/23.
The forecast also shows a higher percentage of adults with chronic health conditions. For example, endocrine and metabolic disorders could increase from 7.9 per cent prior to the pandemic to 10.9 per cent in 2022/23; and mental health problems from 8.8 per cent prior to the pandemic to 11.9 per cent in 2022/23.
Dr Mariana Dyakova, Consultant in Public Health and Deputy Director of for the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Investment for Health and Wellbeing at Public Health Wales, said: “The links between unemployment and longstanding illnesses are well established.
“We hope the findings of this report will be used to inform decision-making for the Coronavirus response and recovery, and to mitigate the harmful impacts of unemployment on the health of individuals and communities.”
Rajendra Kadel, Public Health Economist at Public Health Wales and lead report author, said: “A one per cent fall in employment in working-age people may be associated with about a two per cent increase in chronic health conditions. Coronavirus could result in 900,000 more working-age people in the UK developing chronic health conditions due to reduced employment.
“According to our forecast, the increase in the percentage of adults with limiting longstanding illnesses could be greater, compared with adults with any longstanding illnesses, suggesting implications population health and productivity, as well as pressures on health and social care services.’’
The Longstanding Illness Projection Report examines the economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic on health conditions and health service use in Wales. It looks at trends in data now and makes projections of that data going forward to 2022/23.
A longstanding illness is a condition that cannot currently be cured but can usually be controlled with medicines or other treatment options. This includes musculoskeletal, heart and circulatory, respiratory, endocrine and metabolic, and mental health issues.
A limiting longstanding illness is a condition that limits a person’s day to day activities.