NHS to Give Elderly Same Care as Younger Patients; Daily Mail CAMPAIGN; DIGNITY FOR THE ELDERLY

Daily Mail (London), October 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

NHS to Give Elderly Same Care as Younger Patients; Daily Mail CAMPAIGN; DIGNITY FOR THE ELDERLY


Byline: James Chapman Political Editor

AGEISM in the NHS, which turns elderly patients into second-class citizens, is to be outlawed.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham says all patients - whether 20 or beyond 80 - deserve the same care and attention.

Today's announcement follows alarming new evidence that older people are far less likely to receive a proper diagnosis and essential treatment.

Many elderly patients miss out on the scans, drugs and even basic health advice routinely given to the young. Some doctors decide it is simply not worth the bother once patients pass a certain age.

But Mr Burnham told the Daily Mail: 'I have decided it will become illegal for any difference to be made on age grounds. That's quite a big undertaking.

'People in the NHS don't set out to make hard and fast rules that lead to older people getting inferior care. But it's perhaps judgbecause ments that are made and decisions that are made.

'As we live longer we are having to reassess some of our attitudes to ageing. We are saying there shouldn't be an age differential. We should have the highest aspirations for everybody.' Ministers had been heavily criticised for not including the NHS and social care in the general agediscrimination law due to come into force in 2012.

But Mr Burnham said the Health Service's own age discrimination ban will now apply at the same time. Earlier this year, a survey found that almost half of all doctors caring for older patients believe the NHS is 'institutionally ageist'.

As many as seven out of ten specialists say the elderly are more likely to struggle to get conditions diagnosed than younger patients. Research suggests two-thirds of those with dementia are never diagnosed - at least in part because their symptoms are dismissed as an inevitable consequence of old age.

Those with easily identifiable conditions fare no better.

Younger stroke patients are five times more likely to receive an MRI scan to check for bleeding in the brain than older patients. …

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