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Government Emphasises Elderly Patients’ Rights

NHS Age Discrimination To Be Tackled


A medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell has welcomed care services minister Paul Burstow’s call for age discrimination to become a thing of the past in the NHS.

The minister made the announcement as the Department of Health confirmed that it will not be looking to make any exceptions to the Equality Act 2010 before it comes into force in April 2012.

According to the government, the decision has been made in an effort to bring an end to age discrimination in the NHS and ensure that all patients get access to the best possible treatment regardless of their age.

Reports by the British Geriatrics Society and the Health Ombudsman have both raised concerns on the issue in the recent past.

Jonathan Peacock, a medical law and patients’ rights specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said: “The suggestion that decisions on treatment for conditions could be carried out differently depending on whether a patient is young or old is incredibly concerning.

“We see a large number of cases in which the elderly have been neglected and recent research has shown that up to a fifth of complaints made to the Ombudsman are linked to care for older people.

“It is vital that the government’s announcement leads to an improvement in the NHS and its complaint system, particularly with a view to ensuring that lessons are learnt from all cases and standards ultimately raised.

“Every patient has a right to receive the best possible care and with the maximum dignity, regardless of how old they are.”