The National Health Service could have to support one million more older patients with serious illnesses within the next decade, a new report has warned.

An analysis of the latest data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing by The International Longevity Centre has found that around 13.9% - an estimated 2.6 million people - aged 50 years and over are currently living with serious illness in England, with 3.1 million in the UK as a whole.

But, if the current trend continues, “the projected proportion of people living with serious illness could increase to 14.8% by 2025, it said.

According to the researchers, “improvements in diagnosis coupled with better treatments that increase survival and could partly explain the increase in first diagnosis” for older people with serious diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

But they also note that their estimates “are likely to underrepresent the true proportion”, given that the analysis is based on data from only five of the commonly recognised serious or critical illnesses - Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, heart attack and stroke.