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Health Challenges and Initiatives in the United Kingdom: A Case Study Analysis


Task: What are the key health issues impacting the United Kingdom, and what initiatives has the government undertaken to address them?


1.0 Introduction to the Case Study

1.1 Rationale of the study

Emerging one-sided facilities and avoiding health issues and factors that greatly impact it worldwide rapidly influence the economic stability and adequate development of particular nations. About 34 countries reported that the biggest health problems in 2022 were mental health and Covid-19 followed by cancer, stress, obesity and diabetes. However, in this paper, the key demographic indicators, health issues and challenges of the UK will be discussed along with discussing initiatives that the country takes to build a block health system with SDG. Like many other developed nations, the aging population is faced in the UK as aging increases the developing chronic disease risks and long-standing sickness. Additionally, mental health issues and disorders like anxiety, depression and stress as the biggest problems in the UK, about 38% reported psychiatric issues.

1.2 Introduction of the country and key demographics, UK

The UK had a population of more than 67 million according to the year 2021 which is the largest size ever it has been date. The UK is comprised of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland Great Britain has long partnered with WHO (World Health Organisation) in order to tackle the most pressing health challenges worldwide and works on improving housing, nutrition, working conditions and sanitation. The healthcare system of the UK ranked in 34th place in 2022 out of 167 countries. According to the WHO report, the country spends 6% of GDP on health services and is ranked 18th (Fleck, 2023). In the UK, the average life expectancy rate at birth in 2021 is about 80.4 years while a slight increase in the maternal death rate has been observed in the UK. In 2018-20, 10.9% per 100,000 death rate while in 2019-21, the maternal death rate was about 11.56%.

Ranking of the countries healthcare system

Figure: Ranking of the countries' healthcare system

(Source: Fleck, 2023)

2.0 Health issues in the country UK

Variations in health life expectancies in the UK greatly depend on socioeconomic factors, gender and geography. Inequalities in recent years in the health status and life expectancies in the country have increased between individuals living in the most and least deprived communities (Crimmins et al., 2019). There has been a gradual decrease shown since 2000 in the UK about the number of psychiatric beds availability thus, established 24,500 beds and physhiatrics employed in the UK increased from about 8,200 in 2000 to 12,000 in 2020. Developing chronic diseases followed by living unhealthy lifestyles including unhealthy diet, use of alcohol, tobacco and lack of physical activities that increase the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension (Balwan and Kour, 2021). Cancer and Cardiovascular diseases are the key causes of death in the UK and the number of people dying due to Alzheimer's or dementia has increased since 2001.

Themortality rate due to cardiovascular diseases in the UK also displayed an increase in the number of deaths from 255 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 to 259 deaths in 2021. Furthermore, about 64% of adults in 2019 aged about 18 years and more than 18 years in England were categorised as obese or overweight showing a BMI (body mass index) of more than 25. About 25% of male adults and about 26% of female adults were classed as obese in 2021. It was analysed that due to long-term sickness in 2022, people become highly inactive in the UK economically. About 2.3 million people in the UK in 2022 took sick leave due to long-term sickness only for mental health problems about 313 thousand people took sick leave and 282 thousand for bad nerves, anxiety and depression (Clark, 2023). Thus, it can be said that public health in the UK has come under criticism in recent years, charged with failing to analyse and tackle health issues. Particularly rising rates of obesity among childhood ages, increasing burden of chronic diseases and rising incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in the elderly. Alcohol and tobacco consumption among people in the UK causes challenges for health goals and leads to increasing cardiovascular diseases.

Reasons for economically inactive people in the UK

Figure: Reasons for economically inactive people in the UK, 2022

(Source: Clark, 2023)

It was also analysed that COVID-19 greatly influenced the health economy of the country as number of the cases significantly rose in 2020 and the largest increase was shown in 2021-2022 winter in the UK which is the third worst-affected country by Coronavirus. Lack of staff, beds and resources and lack of proper handling of Government is one of the key issues causing various health problems among people in the UK during the period of Coronavirus disease that also causes anxiety, isolation, depression and stress (Williamson, Murphy and Greenberg, 2020). British doctors stated that they work in high-risk areas like emergency and ICU and found that 32% of them experienced scrubs shortages and 30% reported a lack of long-sleeved disposable gowns. Additionally, 1/10th of the British doctors that do not feel safe while working in the place due to the lack of PPE for professionals and the perceived delay in lockdown in 2020 shows a low approval rating to the government of the UK in response to the Covid pandemic.

3.0 Health system challenges

3.1 Socio-economic challenges that impact the health of the country’s population

3.1.1 Social challenges impact the health of the UK population

Public health challenges as the population challenges not only the life expectancy but how many years of life, individuals live with good health in the UK, there is a rapid increase in tobacco consumption causing health system challenges among the population (Chang et al., 2019). Stress and anxiety in the workplace tend to consume these things at a younger age. Factors such as education inequality, workplace discrimination and lack of social support systems differentiate people from the social environment and tend to include bad activities such as tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption. It was analysed that about 22.2 billion cigarettes were released for tobacco consumption in 2022 in the UK and each person contributed about 127 dollars to the Smoking Tobacco market in the UK in 2023 while the % of young adults aged between 18-24 years of age who currently smoke was 13.2 % in 2021 in the UK and the age group of 25-34 are the highest contributors of smokers about 15.8% (Trenda, 2023). Gangs in schools, colleges and workplaces and the involvement of individuals in these gangs lead to smoking behaviours that cause various diseases related to cardiovascular, hypertension and long-term sickness in older ages.

3.1.2 Economic issues

Health issues worldwide stem from various complex interplay of factors including socioeconomic disparities, global interconnectedness and inadequate healthcare access. Health issues involve the interaction of factors such as income level, healthcare infrastructure and health threats like pandemics that need to be addressed by analysing the root causes of these issues (Lowder et al., 2022). Income inequality is one of the economic challenges that lead to differences in access to nutrition, living conditions and healthcare impacting the overall population's health. Austerity measures are another challenge as Government austerity policies reduce funding for social services, and public health programs and limit access to necessary services. According to the survey held in 2022 in Great Britain, half of the respondents indicated that lack of staff was the biggest issue in the NHS (national healthcare system) which is followed by limiting access or long waiting times to treatment in Great Britain (Vankar, 2022). Rising living costs including food and housing strain household budgets and impact nutrition and fewer opportunities for education and employment restrict socioeconomic mobility.

Ranking of the countries' healthcare system

Figure: Share of individuals about the biggest problems facing the health care system in Great Britain, 2022

(Source: Vankar, 2022)

4.0 The initiatives of the UK on a health-related SDG (sustainable development goal)

Public Health England (PHE) while focusing on UN SDG takes evidence-based initiatives to address issues in various sectors (Ramirez-Rubio et al., 2019). PHE has also a role to play offering dedicated advice to health bodies and authorities across the sector with the well-being of supporting staff. The priorities and objectives include sustainable development goals of zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth, justice, peace and strong institutions (UK Government, 2020). PHE is committed to promoting equality in public bodies and sectors and creating healthy diverse workplaces in order to enhance the well-being of the environment. The Government continue to develop initiatives to promote diversity and human rights and monitor achievements. PHE announced to support people of all backgrounds in the workplace such as gender, BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), LGBT, disability and Muslim networks and monitor it by implementing of health and well-being strategy managed by the Health and Work Leadership Board. Additionally, PHE become a member of the Race of Opportunity and Stonewall Diversity Champions programme which supports them in analysing and evaluating ways to make the environment exemplar equality and PHE a diversity employer.

On the other hand, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, the government had already some essential steps and initiated health digitalisation including the setting of the NHSX unit in the early stage of 2019 (Coyle, Dreesbeimdiek and Manley, 2021). However, before the Covid pandemic crisis, most of the percentage of people in the UK did not show an eagerness or increasing excitement level towards using telehealth services according to a survey conducted in the UK in 2018, only 6% of respondents stated that they most likely to use telehealth services and were willing to use them again while about 34% stated that they do not want to try that time. The pandemic crisis enhanced the eagerness to use telehealth services rapidly among people in the UK as it changed the attitude of Brits towards implementing digital tools and techniques along with health services (Stewart, 2023). Furthermore, according to the survey held in 2021 in the UK, most government public health interventions related to smoking received a high level of public support as 80% of individuals would support an intervention requiring tobacco organisations to pay the cost of supporting smokers to avoid or quit and 81% support the ban on smoking in cars and vehicles under the age of 18.

5.0 Conclusion

The UK has shown the largest population as ever before and a rising expectancy rate facing lots of health issues in the past few years. The increase in mental health problems, chronic diseases, and deaths due to cardiovascular and cancer are the major health issues identified in the UK. Consumption of tobacco, and alcohol and the impact of the Covid pandemic are leading socio-economic challenges tends to various factors such as income inequality, lack of social support, labour and bed shortages in hospitals, education inequality and rising living cost which greatly impact individual health and well-being in many ways. Following this, it was analysed that obesity, increasing burden of chronic disease and sexually transmitted diseases are highly observed in younger age individuals in the UK in both male and female populations. Along with these health issues, the pandemic greatly hit the country and now the UK is the third most impacted nation by the Covid pandemic as a large number of death cases recorded and the pandemic also impacted the mental health of people like individuals feeling stress, got depression and anxiety due to isolation and threat of disease. However, the UK Government taking initiatives for the health and well-being of the public and the employees of the company aligning human rights and initiating digitalisation of health against these health problems.


Balwan, W.K. and Kour, S., 2021. Lifestyle Diseases: The Link between Modern Lifestyle and threat to public health. Saudi J Med Pharm Sci, 7(4), pp.179-84.

Chang, A.Y., Skirbekk, V.F., Tyrovolas, S., Kassebaum, N.J. and Dieleman, J.L., 2019. Measuring population ageing: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet Public Health, 4(3), pp.e159-e167.

Clark, 2023. Number of economically inactive people due to long-term sickness in the United Kingdom in 2022, by main health condition Available at:,UK%202022%2C%20by%20health%20condi tion&text=In%202022%2C%20there%20were%20around,%2C%20bad%20nerves%2C%20or%20anxiety. [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

Coyle, D., Dreesbeimdiek, K. and Manley, A., 2021. Productivity in UK healthcare during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. National Institute Economic Review, 258, pp.90-116. Crimmins, E.M., Shim, H., Zhang, Y.S. and Kim, J.K., 2019. Differences between men and women in mortality and the health dimensions of the morbidity process. Clinical chemistry, 65(1), pp.135-145.

Fleck, A., 2023. The Healthiest (& Unhealthiest) Countries in the World Available at:,%2C%20illness%20and%20risk%20factors). [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

Lowder, D., Rizwan, K., McColl, C., Paparella, A., Ittmann, M., Mitsiades, N. and Kaochar, S., 2022. Racial disparities in prostate cancer: A complex interplay between socioeconomic inequities and genomics. Cancer letters, 531, pp.71-82.

Ramirez-Rubio, O., Daher, C., Fanjul, G., Gascon, M., Mueller, N., Pajín, L., Plasencia, A., Rojas-Rueda, D., Thondoo, M. and Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., 2019.

Urban health: an example of a “health in all policies” approach in the context of SDGs implementation. Globalization and health, 15, pp.1-21.

Stewart, C., 2023. State of health in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts Available at: [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

Trenda, E., 2023. Share of the population that were current smokers in the United Kingdom in 2021, by age Available at:,percent%20of%20the%20total%20population. [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

UK Government, 2020. PHE: Sustainable Development Management Plan 2020/25 Available at: /PHE_SDMP_2020_25-2.pdf [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

Vankar, P., 2022. Share of individuals who said select problems were the biggest facing the health care system in Great Britain in 2022 Available at: [Accessed on: 20 September, 2023]

Williamson, V., Murphy, D. and Greenberg, N., 2020. COVID-19 and experiences of moral injury in front-line key workers. Occupational Medicine, 70(5), pp.317-319.


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