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Welcome for report warning against age discrimination
Surgical treatments which can prolong life and improve living standards should not be denied to older patients because of their age, a new report warns.
Age discrimination in the NHS has been made illegal but a report by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and Age UK states that some older patients are still missing out on vital treatment because of their age. The Telegraph & Argus started a campaign called With Respect last year aimed at ensuring the elderly and vulnerable are treated with the dignity they deserve.
And the RCS says, that as the population ages and people are living longer lives, doctors have a “moral duty” to properly care for older patients.
It insists that surgeons should no longer look at a patient's age to assume whether they are suitable for surgery, instead their overall health should be taken into consideration. The report found surgery rates decline for people as they grow older for a number of treatments including breast cancer operations, joint replacements, prostate cancer treatments and hernias.
While the incidence of breast cancer peaks in patients aged 85 and older, surgery rates decline sharply from the age of 70, the figures indicate.
Councillor Mike Gibbons, chairman of Bradford Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said he fully supported the report’s conclusions and he applauded the T&A for the With Respect campaign.
Coun Gibbons, also deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford, said: “I have parents who are both 85 so it is a subject I am interested in. I think there are never any grounds for discriminating against people with regards to surgery on age-related issues only.
“We should understand you can’t write off people just because they are elderly.”
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: “When it comes to people’s health, their date of birth actually tells you very little.
“A healthy-living 80-year-old could run rings round someone many years younger who does not share the same good health.”
Keith Nathan, chief officer at Age UK in Bradford and District, said: “I think it very important people should be looking at health and fitness when assessing for treatment. It is a fact that while some older people can be infirm others are pretty fit, even compared to those younger than them. Just having an age barrier is very unfair.”