Care denied to some on the basis of age

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A report by the Royal College of Surgeons and Age UK, “Access all Ages”, says that some patients miss out on vital treatment because they are judged purely on their chronological age.

Age discrimination in the NHS was made illegal earlier this year but there is evidence that it still plays a part in whether treatment is offered and in the nature of that treatment. It is acknowledged that there may be good reasons for offering different treatment options to older patients, but in some cases it seems that limited treatment is offered purely on the basis of age without considering the overall health of the individual patient.

A solicitor in the Clinical Negligence department at Ashtons Legal, says: “There are few who would not think that it was totally wrong for doctors not to offer any patient treatment from which they are likely to get benefit but there is evidence that in a number of cases, purely on the basis of their date of birth, they are either not being offered appropriate treatment or are being denied some treatment options.

“Of course there may be very valid reasons why a specific treatment is not advisable for an individual because of other health conditions or risks or because the risk in the treatment itself is too great to justify when set against the potential benefit.

“What is unacceptable however is to rule treatment out purely on the basis of age without taking into account the individual’s circumstances and quality of life.  There are 80+ year olds who are running marathons and many over 80s have a tremendous enjoyment of life.

“Patients have the need and the right to be fully informed of all treatment options open to them but of course at the same time they must be given all appropriate advice in relation to these and to their own circumstances.  They have the right to play a part in their own treatment plan and in this day and age have the expectation that they should do so.

“It is now generally accepted, certainly by the public at large, that they are entitled to proper information and advice and should be informed about treatment options.  A number of countries are led by people in their late 70s or even early 80s. We only have to think about what Churchill achieved in his last few decades of life to see how crazy it is to write someone off on account of their age.”


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