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Age Discrimination

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the efforts made to address age discrimination in the NHS since 2000; [118498](2) how many representations he has received relating to age discrimination in the NHS in each of the last five years. [118499]

Standard One of the older people's national service framework (NSF) sets out the commitment to address age discrimination in access to health and social care. Since its publication in March 2001 significant progress has been made in starting to tackle age discrimination:

There is a now a wider appreciation and awareness across health and social care of age discrimination as an issue.
National health service organisations have checked their written polices to ensure they have no age bias. Only a very small number have been found that discriminated against older people. In these cases, procedures are being reviewed.
Our monitoring through strategic health authorities at October 2002 indicates that, 91 per cent. of areas had strategic and operational plans to address identified age discrimination.
Councils and care trusts have received guidance to make sure everyone has fair access to services—regardless of age.
In November last year we released a computerised information tool to enable those implementing the NSF at local level to compare their treatment rates in 10 different hospital procedures, in relation to different age groups.
We supported the development of a practice guide published in February 2002 by the King's Fund, "Auditing Age Discrimination—a practical approach to promoting equality in health and social care".
A reflection of this new attitude, coupled with some of the wider Departmental initiatives, can be seen in hospitals' greater action in providing surgery for older patients:
between 2000 and 2002, for example, breast cancer surgery for patients 85 and over rose by 13 per cent. and while coronary artery by pass grafts increased by 16 per cent. for those 65 or over, while the increase was 32 per cent. Among patients 75 or over and 65 per cent. in the 85 plus age group.
We have funded Age Concern to run eight events on age discrimination across England during the current year.
Detailed, comprehensive information on representations of age discrimination made by organisations and individuals to the NHS are not collated centrally. The Department at a national level and local NHS organisations are continuing to work closely with older people and their representative bodies to identify individual and specific areas of concern and take action to address them.