Hospitals 'deny drugs to older heart patients'
Monday 07 December 1992
Professor John Grimley Evans, head of geriatric medicine at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, has condemned 'covert' age discrimination by hospitals as 'unscientific and inequitable'.
In a report on the health of Britain's 14 million third agers - people aged 50-74 - Professor Grimley Evans warns that the situation is likely to get worse in the new market-style NHS. Hospital trusts, paid a flat rate for treatments, may designate older people who stay on wards longer than average as 'medically unsuitable' for intervention, when the true determinant is their 'poorer profit margin', the report says.
A recent survey of 175 coronary care units found that 40 per cent had an age related policy on clot- busting (thrombolytic) drugs given after a heart attack. Older people would not be offered the drugs largely on the grounds of cost, Professor Grimley Evans said. 'This is quite crazy because there is evidence that the drugs save more lives in older people.'
A fifth of the units operated age-related admission policies. Patients over the age limit would be sent to geriatric wards and denied specialist coronary care, he said. Professor Grimley Evans, who is co-author of the report, said that older cancer patients are not always treated as effectively, as younger ones, while those with kidney failure have restricted access to treatment. 'For cardiac surgery you have to be very much iller when you are over 60 than under 60 to always get the treatment needed,' he said. 'Age does not tell you anything, it is the physiology that is important. An 85-year- old can be as fit as a 55-year-old. It is inequitable because people assume that they are paying all their lives to get (NHS) treatment when they need it.'
The report, which is part of the Carnegie Inquiry into the third age, concludes that many older people are too unfit to benefit from the gain in years of life expectancy. Among the 65-74 age group, 30 per cent of men and more than half of women have muscle strength below that required to stand up from a chair unaided. Of those aged 55-64, 30 per cent of men and 51 per cent of women are not fit enough to sustain continuous walking.
But Professor Grimley Evans said that even at an advanced age a change to a healthier lifestyle would have immediate benefits.
Abilities and Wellbeing in the Third Age, Bailey Management Services (Dept. PH), 127 Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2BL; pounds 9.50.
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK, where houses cost 11 times local salaries
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a leading digital agency bu...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Global leader in its respective ...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...