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New equality law to protect elderly from age discrimination

22 October 2009

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New legal rights protecting the elderly against age discrimination are to be introduced.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham is due to announce the measures, which will affect the NHS and all social care from 2012.

The move has followed a review of the treatment of older people and will be introduced without delay.

Previously the new equalities legislation had been expected to impact upon the health sectors later than others across the country. But Mr Burnham will make clear it will be put into practice as soon as possible and Parliament is currently debating the proposals.

He will explain the move as he publishes the conclusions of a study by an NHS chief into how to ensure fair access to services for pensioners.

Sir Ian Carruthers, the chief executive of NHS South West, was asked to investigate the barriers facing the elderly by Mr Burnham’s predecessor Alan Johnson earlier this year.

The review was launched amid a spate of ageism claims against health services.

Researchers found elderly stroke patients received less adequate care than younger counterparts and a watchdog warned the over-65s lost out on mental health services.

A poll found almost half of doctors who cared for older people believed the NHS was “institutionally ageist”.

Mr Burnham, who will address National Children and Adult Services Conference, said: “As we live longer and as the NHS helps us live longer, we have to look at different ways the NHS can help older people.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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