NHS Confederation deputy director of policy Jo Webber comments on plans announced to combat ageism in the NHS.

Commenting today on the remarks made by Secretary of State, Andy Burnham, about ageism in the NHS, the deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, Jo Webber, said:

"The NHS has always cared for older people and will continue to do so but the pressures of an increasingly elderly population, greater expectations of what modern medicine can achieve and a tightening financial situation; mean ageism is an issue the service has to think hard about and tackle.

"It is also true that older people are often the most vulnerable, can face issues with communicating how they feel and in some cases may even have fluctuating capacity to make decisions, all this means they can need special attention.

"However, it does need to be understood that a real change in attitudes cannot be achieved without wider changes in society as a whole and the role older people play in it - the NHS does not exist in isolation from the rest of the community.

"Doctors and nurses need to remain free to make clinical decisions, which take into consideration all the factors affecting a patient's suitability for different types of treatment, including their age. But at the same time people need reassurance that the health service will be there for them to provide the best possible and most appropriate care and treatment when they need it, whatever their age, that is the balance which needs to be struck."

The NHS Confederation

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