Headlines: November 12th, 2008

A leading charity has criticised a delay in introducing legislation against age discrimination in health and social care. Help The Aged described as ‘bitterly disappointing’ plans to establish an advisory group to look into the issues.

Help the Aged was reacting to a plan, revealed in a written answer by the Care Services Minister,Phil Hope, to create a body to investigate ways to tackle discrimination in the health and social care sectors. The charity said ministers must not be seen to “kick the equal rights of older people into the long grass” by delaying any new regulations.

Mr Hope said the advisory group would identify the circumstances in which age discrimination happened, look into possible exceptions to a ban on unjustifiable age discrimination and consider what action would be necessary. It will also examine the costs, risks and benefits of a “differentiation” of services for different age groups. The group’s work, he said would include people who used, commissioned or provided services. It would start work next month and take 18 months to complete its study.

For Help The Aged, Kate Jopling, said, “Older people were promised a ban on age discrimination so a delay in regulations for health and social care will be bitterly disappointing.” The delay, she added, would mean another 18 months of older people sitting in surgeries and hospitals at risk of being denied medical treatment because of their age. “When it comes to health and social care services, in the worst cases, age discrimination can literally mean the difference between life and death,” she said and called for regulations to be introduced without delay.