THOUSANDS of elderly patients are needlessly dying because they are being denied treatment on the grounds of their age, according to new research.
And a Norbreck woman who had to enlist The Gazette’s help in order to get the life-saving treatment she needed says the present system is unfair.
Clarice Richardson, 85, of Glenmere Crescent, Norbreck, had been turned down for a procedure to fit a TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) by the North West Specialised Commissioning Group (NWSCG), due to a lack of available funding.
But she and a number of other patients got the vital surgery following The Gazette’s intervention.
The new study, conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), Age UK and MHP Health Mandate, 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.
Mrs Richardson described the discrimination as “unfair”.
She said: “I’m sorry about all this because it shouldn’t be anything to do with age.
“A life is a life and you want quality of life, age shouldn’t come into it at all.”
The present NHS £20 billion efficiency drive also puts older patients at a heightened risk of age discrimination because restrictions may be imposed when healthcare workers balance the cost of treatment against the patient’s life expectancy, the RCS said.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “There should be absolutely no place in the NHS for assumptions about entitlement to treatments that are based on age or any other form of unjustified discrimination.
“All patients should be treated as individuals, with dignity and respect, and receive care that meets their healthcare needs – irrespective of their age.
“The Government is committed to providing dignity in elderly care.”