Challenges to UK Healthcare System

The UK healthcare system is one of the best in the world. Several indicators show that in the last few decades, health of the population has improved. There is also an increase in the life expectancy and people are living longer and healthier life than before. The mortality rates have also declined for most of the major diseases. UK has also seen a sharp decline in infant mortality rates. In spite of several changes and increase in the delivery of healthcare systems, UK has also witnessed several challenges and the country today is experiencing difficulties to provide with a universal healthcare development to its population. However, there are three main issues that have been creating challenges for the healthcare system of UK (Boyle, S., 2011). These are as follows:


Lifestyle risks are one of the major issues that UK is facing today. The way people live now is having a negative impact on their health. With the fast paced lifestyle, more people are drawing towards fast foods, easy to cook meals and junk food. This kind of food choices have resulted in obesity, increased occurrences of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse is adding to this problem. Teenagers and young population are not able to cope up with the existing societal pressures, because of which they are opting for such life threatening substance abuse. These activities are major reason for people’s ill heath and depending more on health services. Increase in the number of overweight children shows that this pattern is set to continue. The UK government is thus, failing to accommodate primary prevention that helps to reduce lifestyle causes and their risks. It is estimated that most of the cases of heart stroke, diabetes and almost half of the cases of cancer can be prevented through the elimination of common lifestyle risk factors (RT, 2013).


Rising costs is another issue that not only poses great threat to the UK healthcare system, but also to the world today. The present financial crises, increase in the cost of services, huge investments in innovations and technological advancements, increase of energy and suppliers and healthcare delivery to larger population has challenged UK’s healthcare system with higher costs. As a result, the NHS may become unsustainable with debts and financial pressures. The cost of medicines has also increases and with no proper management of medicines, people do not get access to healthcare. The conditions are worst for poorer segments of UK. Moreover, health insurances have worsened this condition as it does not provide with universal healthcare and includes a high cost. Despite people opting of medical insurances, most of them do not get proper health care because they do not include many diseases and health issues. Many people cannot afford the high cost of health and they often are left with no medications and care. The government schemes are not competitive enough to reduce the impact of rising costs. Moreover, they have also failed to provide with a universal health insurance plan that can include all the diseases and health issues (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009).


More number of people is visiting accident and emergency departments which are making it difficult for this unit to cope up with the pressure. Many visits cannot be avoided, however there are many patients who visit A & E departments due to their lack of management in long term health conditions, and also because it is difficult to get appointments with a local GP. People are also often misled and they are not guided properly on where to go for health check up. According to David Prior, head of CQC, most of the elderly population are opting for emergencies because they did not see a doctor during the onset of their problems (RT, 2013). These reasons have made it very difficult for the A & E departments to deal with the pressure and cater to all the patients equally. This has increased the challenges of UK healthcare system and burdened the doctors and medical staff to see a burst of patients in short duration of time.

Hence, It is noted that the country’s healthcare systems in about to collapse because of several negativities and obstacles that have come in the way of development and growth. There has been increase in the inequalities of socio- economic groups of UK, wherein the mainstream segments of the society have access to health, while the lower income groups do not. Modern lifestyle, fast paced world has also led to imbalances in health in the urban population of UK. Cost of medicines, access to healthcare, change in lifestyle, alcohol and drug abuse and life threatening diseases are a few of many challenges that the UK is going through at present (WHO, 2015).


Boyle, S. (2011). United Kingdom health system review. Health Systems in Transition, 15-35.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2009). Changes in health care financing and organization. Retrieved from Academy Health:

(2013). UK healthcare on brink of collapse – NHS regulator. Retrieved from RT:\

WHO. (2015). WHO. Retrieved February 20, 2015, from