NHS pressures will “keep rising” as Wales grows older and the number of people with multiple long-term conditions increases, the health minister has warned.

Health minister Eluned Morgan said a report on the challenges awaiting the Welsh NHS over the next 25 years vindicated the “vision” of the government’s 10-year health strategy from 2018.

“A growing and ageing population along with increasing numbers of people will multiple long-term health conditions mean that pressures on our NHS and social care system will keep rising," she said.

“As we look towards the future, we must protect the fundamental principles upon which our NHS was created whilst understanding that we will all need to rise to the challenges that lie ahead.”

South Wales Argus: Eluned Morgan MS

Last week, the chief executive of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board told Monmouthshire councillors the NHS cannot afford to keep all current services running and meet demand.

Ms Morgan told Senedd members the government's long-term health strategy - A Healthier Wales - had been the subject of continual assessment since she took office in 2021.

Experts predict one in five people in Wales will be aged 70 and over within 15 years. The number of people with diabetes is expected to increase by 22 per cent and the number of people with four or more long-term health conditions could double.

The government’s chief scientific adviser for health and author of the report, Dr Rob Orford, wrote: “Having an ageing population is a marker of the success of public health and medical interventions.

“One hundred years ago, many people died from infectious diseases, often in childhood. Fifty years ago, many people died from strokes and heart attacks. Now, more people die from cancer and dementia.”

Welsh Conservative shadow health minister Russell George described the report as “comprehensive and welcome”, saying it showed the need to make the Welsh NHS “fit for the future”.

“We want to see a focus on preventative measures and encouragement for people to lead healthier lifestyles,” Mr George said.

How old is Wales?

The most recent UK Census indicated that nearly half a million people in Wales, or 16 per cent of the population, were aged 70 or over.

The same data suggested that 19 per cent of Monmouthshire's population already falls into that elderly bracket, while the figures for Powys and Conwy have already exceeded the government's 20 per cent warning.

Urban populations like Cardiff and Newport are significantly younger by comparison, with only 10 and 12 per cent of residents aged 70 or over at the time of the last census.

The Bevan Commission has invited the public, including those who work in health and social care, to discussions across Wales. Newbridge Memo will host such an event on Thursday, October 12. Entry is free. Click here to book a place.