Letter: Age bar in NHS

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The Independent Culture
Sir: According to Age Concern the NHS is refusing elderly patients certain operations on the basis of age (Deborah Orr, 9 November). They are right. It is something that goes on in every hospital in the land every day. However it would be more accurate to say that discrimination occurs on the basis of "quality of life". Unfortunately it is often the case that one term is used when the other would be more appropriate.

Age Concern should be congratulated for bringing such a socially important issue to the fore. Why should someone's 85-year-old grandmother not have a new hip or heart operation if it might improve or extend her life? But sadly the pot is not unlimited and never could be and we need to face up to that harsh fact.

Unfortunately it has been doctors and managers who have been making, and must go making, tough decisions while the squeamish public chooses to look the other way.


London W6