THE population of Bolton will top 300,000 in the next 20 years — placing a greater strain on cash-strapped health and social care services.
The current number of Bolton residents stands at 279,000 but this is set to increase by 33,480 — 12 per cent — by 2035.
People over the age of 65 are the fastest expanding group with a predicted growth from 44,700 now to 61,400 in 2030 — an increase of 37 per cent.
The number of black and minority ethic residents in Bolton is also on the rise, and increased from 12.8 per cent of the population in 2001 to 20.6 per cent in 2011.
Older residents are more likely to have long-term health problems, such as diabetes, and often need extra support from the NHS and the council.
Health chiefs say they are planning ahead to ensure they can provide services for the burgeoning population.
Linda Thomas, deputy leader of Bolton Council, added: “We have been aware that the number of people over 65 is expanding for some time.
“People’s health is getting better and people are living longer. That’s why we have been doing the integrated health and social care work.
“We need to keep older people out of hospital and living healthier lives in their own homes.
“The real difficulty is that the NHS is not getting any extra money. We are expected to deliver integration without extra funds. Really the government should have given us a transition fund.”
A new “integrated health and social care system” is in the process of being rolled out across Bolton.
It will see the council pool resources with the hospital, health commissioners, mental and healthcare services to provide health and social care “closer to home”.
The new system is designed to target people most likely to be admitted to hospital by treating those with long-term health problems earlier.
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chair of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We will see Bolton’s population increase over the coming decades, through a combination of people living longer, a higher birth rate, and immigration.
“This change has been taken into account in a new five-year strategic plan for the Bolton health economy.
"NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, together with local partners, has built this plan from our local understanding of health needs for the population of Bolton now and in the coming years.
"Any potential pressure or additional demand on services has been anticipated and will be managed.”
A council spokesman added: “Bolton is no different to other places in the country in that more people are living for longer.
“While many older people will lead active and healthy lives, we are aware that there are increased risks of poor health as age increases.
“We are aware that this will have an impact on services and we are already committed to working with our partners in identifying health issues at an early stage.”