Call 01279 215580

NHS Face Up To Increased Fees To Deal With Age Discrimination

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

According to the Telegraph, Professor David Oliver, the Department of Health's key adviser on the elderly, said the NHS was "failing to do basic things for older people." He has warned there was "endemic evidence of discriminatory attitudes from NHS staff" which was leading to older people "systematically" getting a worse deal in hospitals across England than younger patients.

Frankly, this kind of statement by Professor Oliver which was made under oath to the House of Lords Committee is dangerous(though honest and needed to be said) for the NHS as it highlights a legal vulnerability.

It is worth considering the following.

1. Since 1st October of 2012,  the government has implemented the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010) which prohibit age discrimination in the field of goods and services. This means that commercial, charitable and public sector organisations are required to eliminate unequal treatment on the grounds of age in respect of the provision of goods and services.  

2. Any decisions taken by the NHS because of age or which place specific age groups at a particular disadvantage will have to be justified under the relevant legislation of the EA 2010. The statement by Professor Oliver shows that elderly patients can receive poor treatment. But we all knew that anyway. Furthermore, in an age of austerity, difficult funding decisions will inevitably need to be made which may impact directly or indirectly on older patients.

3.The NHS has already taken preliminary steps aimed at avoiding discrimination claims; for example, the NHS Commissions Board (NHSCB) Authority published an Equality Analysis at the beginning of 2012. However, there is simply too much to do and with new complex legislation, too much uncertainty.
With so much at stake on such an emotive issue, standby for much more litigation.

Justin Patten, Eldery Client Mediator