12. June 2012 10:18
The Government has banned age discrimination against NHS patients and other public and private service users.
From October 2012, NHS clinicians will no longer be able to deny treatments to patients on grounds of age alone.
Care decisions will still be based on clinical need and fitness, but clinicians will have a duty to support the wellbeing and dignity of elderly patients.
While laws exist to prevent age discrimination in the workplace, there has been no equivalent legislation for public and private services.
Following a health summit in March 2012, the King’s Fund stated that older NHS patients with ‘incurable’ problems were often being denied treatment that could improve their comfort and dignity.
In February 2011, the Health Service Ombudsman reported that the NHS widely displayed “an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality” of elderly patients.
Care Minister Paul Burstow (pictured), announcing the new legislation, said: “We know that older people are not always treated with the dignity and respect they deserve because of ageist attitudes – this will not be tolerated.
“The challenge for the NHS is to look beyond a person’s date of birth and meet the needs of older people as individuals.”