Letter: Ageism in the NHS

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Ageism in the NHS

Sir: We are writing in response to the recent Gallup survey commissioned by Age Concern showing that one in twenty people over 65 believe they have been refused treatment by the NHS because of their age (report, 19 April).

While successive governments maintain that treatment is provided on the basis of need there is increasing evidence that older people are losing out. There are unequivocal examples of discrimination against older people within the NHS: 20 per cent of coronary care units operate age-related admissions policies and 40 per cent attach age restrictions in the giving of clot-busting thrombolytic drug therapy after heart attacks; women over 65 are not routinely invited for breast screening despite evidence that they are at much greater risk of developing the disease; and there are GPs' surgeries which refuse to see patients over 65.

Many older people are expected to live with treatable conditions and accept them as the symptoms of growing old.

We call on the Government to acknowledge that older people are often discriminated against in the NHS and to conduct a national survey into the extent of age discrimination in the NHS.