Letter: Hospitals fail to accept the fact of death

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Sir: It was with great sadness and depressing familiarity that we read John Hoyland's account of his stepfather's final illness ("Thanks, NHS, for a rotten way to die", 22 April), endured in the context of a health service seemingly ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of illness in old age.

As health professionals specialising in the care of older people we recognise the failings of a service where measures of "success" are increasingly based on performance rather than quality, and attention to detail is eclipsed by the pressure to "get the job done".

It is tempting to lay blame at the door of health professionals, managers or even politicians, but to do so would be missing the point. Mr Hoyland's account is more an indictment of our attitudes to ageing, and the inadequacies of the NHS are perhaps a paradigm of the ageism which abounds in society.

DR MARTIN VERNON

SUSAN JACKSON

Newbury Park, Essex

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