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Although health problems generally increase with age, disease and disability are not inevitable consequences of growing older. Many older people remain healthy and continue to make a major contribution to society.

The challenge for the Executive is to maximise the opportunity for each individual in Scotland to enjoy a long and healthy life. Meeting the health and healthcare needs of older people is the central responsibility of NHSScotland, with good mainstream care as a goal of current and future efforts in health service reform.

Good practice already exists widely, and its generalisation throughout the service offers a direct route to improving healthcare throughout Scotland.

"Our National Health, a plan for action, a plan for change" indicated that the health of older people would be a new priority for NHSScotland.

The Chief Medical Officer in Scotland was asked to Chair an Expert Group on the Healthcare of Older People which was flagged up in the Plan as one of the main vehicles for implementing that aim.

As part of the consultation process the public was invited, via newspaper advertisements, to complete a structured questionnaire. A specially commissioned MORI poll sought the views of 500 older people on their recent experience of the NHS and details are published in "Public Attitudes to the Healthcare of Older People in Scotland".

The Expert Group published its report 'Adding Life to Years' in January 2002. At the same time the Common Services Agency for NHSScotland also published "The Health and Well-being of Older People in Scotland - Insights from National Data"

Current Progress

Responsibility for taking forward the recommendations of the report lies with many agencies, NHS Boards, Local Authorities, clinical effectiveness and education bodies, voluntary agencies and patient groups. An open meeting exploring the main themes of "Adding Life to Years" was held in June 2003 and the first annual report was published in December 2003.

More information on health can be found at the Health and Community Care topic page.