We need to talk about long-term health, not just long-term wealth


Longevity poses many issues for UK financial services, not least the economic impact of a growing generation of pensioners, the chief executive of Business for Health has said.

But according to Tina Woods, people do not just need to prepare for living longer than previous generations, but understand how that will look in terms of health and healthcare needs.

She told FTAdviser editor Simoney Kyriakou: "There are a few issues with longevity. We've had a decline in the gains we had in life expectancy as rates are slowing down in the UK and in the US. 

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"There's a widening in the gap in terms of healthy life expectancy - the years lived in good health - which before Covid was about 20 years' difference between the wealthy and those who are not wealthy. That gap is getting wider."

Just as chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced initiatives to get more people aged 50 and above back into the workplace, studies show the impact of black swan events, such as Covid, having an impact on people's long-term health.

And this, in turn, is affecting the whole of society. 

Woods said: "There's a huge disconnect [between these policies and the reality]. Poor health has a huge drag on the economy as well as the quality people's lives.

"The IPPR has shown there is about £8bn hit on the economy as a result of poor health among workers, equating to a loss of income of about £2,000 a year for individuals."

Business for Health is a business-led coalition of socially responsible employers, purchasers, investors and innovators supporting long-term sustainable innovation and investment in preventative health and care. 

Part of the cure for society's longevity and healthcare woes, according to Business for Health, is technological and infrastructure developments, and a collegiate drive to improve working life for older citizens.

"You can't have healthy economic growth without a healthy population", Woods added. "But there are developments that can help - for example, AI has had a huge impact in terms of treatment such as imaging."

She talked about her mission to harness data through AI on health and what impacts health, which can then inform innovation projects and research that enables companies and individuals to improve Britain's wellbeing.

To watch the full interview, click on the video above.