Headlines: February 13th, 2003

Age discrimination is affecting health and social care services for older people. This is the main conclusion from research by the King’s Fund’s. The report ‘Auditing Age Discrimination’ reveals that tackling age discrimination is too low on the agenda for many health and social care organisations and that staff and managers struggle to recognise ageist practices. The result is that the UK’s growing population ofolder people are not getting access to services on the basis of clinical need and on equal terms with younger people.The report acknowledges that some changes will require significant resources, but claims that many could be achieved more simply by treating older people with dignity and directly involving them on scrutiny groups. Older people and the health and social care staff that look after them have a great deal to say about access to services and the quality of those services.

An example of age discrimination comes in a report by the National Audit Office which found that on any given day more than 4,000 people over the age of 75 remain in hospital, despite being declared fit to leave. The causes of delayed discharge include poor procedures within hospitals, inadequate co-operation between the health and social care sectors, and a lack of capacity in appropriate post-hospital care. An encouraging sign is that this figure is down from 5700 in the previous year.

Links: http:www.kingsfundbookshop.org.uk   http://www.nao.gov.uk