Specialist Doctors Label The NHS Institutionally Ageist And Demand A Law To Bring It To An End, UK

January 28, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

New research shows almost half (47 per cent) of doctors specialising in the care of older people think the NHS is institutionally ageist.(1) The research carried out for leading older people’s charity Help the Aged also found an overwhelming three quarters (77 per cent) of British Geriatrics Society (BGS) members would support the introduction of legislation against age discrimination in the NHS.(1)

The Government has announced age discrimination legislation will be part of the forthcoming Equality Bill – but current proposals mean the regulations protecting older people in health and social care may not be approved before the next election. Help the Aged is calling on the Government to review their timetable as a matter of urgency. If they do not, older people may be left to wait over a year before the regulations the Government promised older people are even drafted.

Well over half (55 per cent) of the doctors from the BGS said they themselves would be worried about how the NHS will treat them in old age.(1)

Kate Jopling, Head of Public Affairs for Help the Aged, says: ‘The Government has taken a bold step towards protecting older people but they are at risk of stumbling before they complete the first stride. Each day without a new law, older people risk being ignored, misdiagnosed or even denied appropriate treatment. Older people have a right to fair health care, free from ageist prejudice.

‘The right time to pass the new age regulations is alongside the new bill, so that older people will be protected as soon as possible. If this opportunity is missed, older people could be left waiting indefinitely for the same protections other groups already enjoy.’

The new research also shows that:

– Two thirds (66 per cent) of doctors specialising in the care and treatment of older patients agreed that in their experience, older people are less likely to have their symptoms fully investigated.(1)

– Seven out of ten (72 per cent) geriatricians said older people were also less likely to be considered and referred on for essential treatments.(1)

Kate Jopling of Help the Aged, concludes: ‘Older people are not asking for special treatment but simply the chance to get equal treatment. The Government has promised older people fairness in this parliament. Ministers must now deliver.’

Alex Mair, Chief Executive of the British Geriatrics Society, says: “What this research makes clear is that the NHS is currently failing older people. We need to ensure that patients of all ages receive the very best care, regardless of their age.

‘The proposed age regulations for health and social care will be integral to changing attitudes and ultimately improving care. The sooner we have these regulations in place the better it will be for older people.’

People can support the Help the Aged Just Equal Treatment campaign by:

– Telling their MP to sign EDM 458 for legislation before the next election by visiting http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/justequaltreatment

– Becoming a Help the Aged fan on Facebook and take action;

– Call Help the Aged customer services on 020 7239 1982.


1. The British Geriatrics Society, on behalf of Help the Aged, surveyed a sample of 201 of its UK members from a total of 2000 UK members on the 30th May 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the sample has been confirmed by an independent poling company as representative of UK BGS members. For more information please contact the Help the Aged press office on 020 7239 1942.

2. The Help the Aged Early Day Motion (EDM 458) text can be found here.

3. Age is the only equality group not covered by current discrimination legislation in the provision of goods, facilities and services. Other equality groups include race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief. Age discrimination legislation already covers employment, vocational training and post 16 education.

4. Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities – which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.

5. Help the Aged urgently needs donations and support to help it in the increasingly challenging fight to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect. Visit http://www.helptheaged.org.uk or call 0207 239 1982.

6. The British Geriatrics Society is the only professional association, in the United Kingdom, of doctors practising geriatric medicine. The majority of the 2500 members worldwide are consultants in geriatric medicine, the psychiatry of old age, public health medicine, general practitioners, and scientists engaged in the research of age-related disease. The Society also has members in the nursing, therapy and pharmacology professions. Visit http://www.bgs.org.uk to find out more.

British Geriatrics Society

[Via http://www.medicalnewstoday.com]


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