NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 11, 2006

Despite evidence that even older patients benefit from timely treatment for stroke and mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack), a researcher has warned in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal that many doctors do not bother treating people over 80 in a timely manner.  In other words, the researcher contends that ageism is rampant in health services.

According to Professor John Young:

  • Many decades of under funding the English health services have seen to it that older patients do not get the quality of treatment reserved for the younger ones suffering strokes.
  • Similar scenarios prevail in cancer services, coronary care units, prevention of vascular disease and in mental health services, he said.
  • He suggested that in order to overcome these obvious shortcomings, specialist and primary care responses to the management of transient ischemic attacks must be integrated in a manner similar to what has happened with coronary heart diseases.

The National Service Framework for Older People has made a difference in care received by older people since 2001, he added.  But unless drastic changes are implemented, it would seriously undermine the health service.

"Don't be surprised if older people lose trust in their health service and lobby for protection through antidiscrimination legislation.  The result would indeed be a patient-led health service."

Source: "Ageism A Curse In British Health Services,", September 9, 2006; based upon: John Young, "Ageism in services for transient ischaemic attack and stroke; Could be cut by emulating successful efforts against ageism in heart disease care," British Medical Journal, September 9, 2006.


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