Monday, 18 August 2008

Over 50s being neglected in hospital

Hospitals fail to provide basic care to over-50s, particularly if they are old and frail, research has suggested.

By Sarah Knapton
Last Updated: 6:21AM BST 15 Aug 2008

Experts found a significant disparity in the treatment offered to patients with conditions like osteoporosis and incontinence compared with heart disease or diabetes.

Dr Nick Steel, senior lecturer in primary care at the University of East Anglia, who led the study, said: "One of the conditions that came out worst was osteoarthritis, where we asked people if they'd received basic advice such as doing exercises to control the condition, and whether they had effective pain relief."

The research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that the quality of healthcare for people with common health conditions "varied substantially by condition".

Scores on the quality of care ranged from 83% for heart disease to 29 per cent for osteoarthritis.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: "These figures show that age discrimination within the NHS is still rife. The system is therefore clearly failing thousands of older people."

The study, which involved 8,688 people, examined 13 different health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression and osteoarthritis.

The researchers found that substantially more care was provided for general medical conditions 74 per cent than for geriatric conditions 57 per cent.

Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said: "These depressing results show that when it comes to healthcare, all too often older people and the conditions that affect them come far down the pecking order. Yet again, ageism rears its ugly head."