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Elderly Health Service patients who are denied treatment because of their advanced age can sue the NHS staff, according to the new plans which are to be announced by the government today.

Date: (12 June 2012)    |    

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The law which gives elderly the right to sue if they have faced age-discrimination by NHS staff is to become operational from October this year.
The ministers are to announce the plans which would give the elderly patients right to legal action if they are refused operations, tests and scans which are routinely offered to the younger patients.
Patients or their relatives will also be able to go to court and claim compensation if they have been treated without dignity on hospital wards.
It has been necessitated after growing evidence showed that the elderly were routinely being refused treatments for cancer, heart problems and strokes because of their age.
Event the doctors have admitted that their judgments were often based on a patient’s date of birth before even seeing them.
It was also reported that the elderly were routinely left hungry, dehydrated and in soiled clothing on NHS wards as they struggled to make themselves heard.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow is to say today that older people were not always treated with the dignity and respect they deserved because of ageist attitudes. This would not be tolerated and that there was no place for age discrimination in the NHS or social care.
With life expectancy increasing more people are ageing and the challenge for the NHS was to look beyond a person’s date of birth and meet the needs of older people as individuals.
The Government has made an amendment to the Equalities Act that will make it illegal for NHS staff to assume patients are too old for care.
Where elderly patients cannot be treated because of their weak condition involving certain treatments like high-risk operations or chemotherapy would be excluded from the list.
But under the new law, doctors and other NHS staff will have to carry out proper consultations and take into account the patient’s fitness and health before making a judgement.
Last night Michelle Mitchell, director of Age UK, said that discrimination based on date of birth was as indefensible in 21st century Britain as prejudice on the basis of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
She added that the new law which will apply to the NHS, social care and other services would prevent older people from being denied proper treatment based on their age and will send a clear message to service providers that discrimination law will in future also protect older people.
The age discrimination cases will be heard by county courts and if a judge rules in a patient’s favour they may be entitled to hefty compensation payouts.