Elderly patients win right to sue if medical treatment is denied because of age

Ministers to announce bold discrimination ban that could open up new claims on hospital and social care

Elderly patients are to receive legal protection against being denied medical treatment simply because of their advanced years, ministers will announce today.

A ban against age discrimination in public services, such as health and social care, is to come into force in October. It will outlaw doctors, care home staff and hospital managers from deciding on levels of care on any grounds other than medical need.

Patients or relatives who believe they have been discriminated against because of their age or are being regarded as a lower priority than younger people with the same condition will able to sue health managers.

Nurses and carers will also face a legal obligation to treat older people with respect and dignity.

The moves follow years of reports of treatment being rationed by age – for instance with younger patients placed nearer the front of the queue for heart surgery – and accounts of elderly patients receiving sub-standard care.

Age discrimination in the workplace is already illegal and ministers have been deliberating for more than a year on whether the ban should be extended to the provision of services. As the timetable slipped, fears grew among campaigners for the elderly that the Government might be having second thoughts.

Ministers have dropped plans to outlaw companies and banks from charging older customers higher prices for products such as travel insurance, but are to implement the bulk of their initial proposals.

Doctors and hospital chiefs are formally advised only to allocate treatment on the basis of medical need and not age.

But studies suggest they are not always abiding by the instruction. Three years ago a think-tank concluded that older people had "differential access to services" – they were less likely than younger people to be referred to intensive care after a serious accident and waited longer in casualty departments. It also found they were not receiving equivalent treatment for conditions such as strokes and heart disease.

Paul Burstow, the Care Minister, will say today: "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. Our population is ageing as more of us live longer. The challenge for the NHS is to look beyond a person's date of birth and meet the needs of older people as individuals."

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: "Discrimination based on your date of birth is as indefensible in 21st-century Britain as prejudice on the basis of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

"We hope the new law which will apply to the NHS, social care and other services will prevent older people being denied proper treatment because of their age. It sends a clear message to service providers that discrimination law will in future also protect older people."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

    £16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world