The Government are strongly committed to ending age discrimination. The National Health Service (NHS) Constitution, published in January 2009, states that “the NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief” and sets out patients' right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services, including on grounds of age once the relevant provisions of the Equality Bill are brought into force for the health sector. The Bill, currently before Parliament, includes provisions to prohibit age discrimination in the provision of services and the exercise of public functions. This will apply to health and social care.
NHS professionals are dedicated to offering good care to all patients irrespective of age, but we recognise that more needs to be done to improve services for all age groups and tackle age discrimination where it exists.
The Secretary of State for Health has initiated a national review of age discrimination led from the south-west region by Sir Ian Carruthers, chief executive of the South West Strategic Health Authority, and Jan Ormondroyd, chief executive of Bristol City Council. The review is looking at the key actions health and adult social care should take to prepare for implementation of the ban on age discrimination. More widely, the department is considering how health and social care organisations can ensure that people receive high quality services, whatever their age. The review will make its recommendations in a published report in October 2009.