Shocking treatment of elderly on NHS

Elderly cancer patients

 

 

“under-treated” on NHS

 

Queen Elizabeth II, left, and , right, are see...

Two OAPs who would be 'downgraded' with NHS treatment

 

Arrogant administrators make assumptions about the elderly’s ability to cope, a charity has warned.

 

Some are missing out on medicines and support that would give them the best chance of beating the disease, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

 

Figures show older people are less likely to receive surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy than younger people.

Yet in the year when two elderly people are embarking on a gruelling Diamond Jubilee tour, it is time the NHS realised that OAPs today are active and deserve better care.

 

There is “growing evidence” that many older patients who could benefit from treatment are simply not being offered it, according to Macmillan’s report,

The Age Old Excuse: The under-treatment of older cancer patients.

 

One year after Breast Cancer Care’s report Improving Outcomes and Experiences for older women with breast cancer

  • Elderly are put in special Geriatric wards with fewer nurses per number of patients.
  • Not only will you find it more difficult to obtain tests for possible cancers, but according to a report in Global Medical News, “Half of Older Cancer Patients Have Unrecognized Medical Problems”

What needs to improve?

Consider using healthcare professionals to deliver face-to-face breast cancer information, as these are a trusted source of information for older women.

Avoid relying on online information sources, as many older people do not use the  Internet.  Although ‘silver surfers’ are an expanding group, generally they don’t become proficient users until after they have been diagnosed, and need to find information.

Imagery used in publications should contain older models.

The design of information and support services should involve consultation with older patients.
Healthcare professionals should identify and address the individual psycho-social needs of older women before and during treatment, and signpost to relevant sources of information and support, including finanial and benefits information, breast prosthesis services and lymphoedema services.  Where possible, ongoing needs should also be assessed during follow-up consultations.

 

The charity said under-treatment is one of several factors contributing to around 14,000 avoidable cancer deaths among over-75s in the UK each year.

 

The others include late diagnosis and a higher incidence of cancer among older people.

 

The report said recommendations on treatment are too often being made on the basis of age, regardless of how fit patients are.

 

Many patients also do not take up treatment because they do not have enough practical support to help them at home or with transport.

 

Furthermore, older people are under-represented in clinical trials of new treatments, which means doctors do not have a wealth of evidence on benefits and risks of cancer treatment and impact on quality of life.

As Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Assumptions about someone’s ability to tolerate treatment, quality of life or personal preferences should never be based on their chronological age.”

BEWARE DATE OF BIRTH

 

Currently the NHS channels elderly people into Geriatric Wards, and can mark them down for less-urgent treatment as soon as NHS Receptionists register patients.

First question barked across crowded waiting rooms is DATE OF BIRTH?  Thus automatically identifying anyone over 60.

Hospitals say that this is because data input into the IT system goes by DOB.  Nonsense!  Any data can be used: name, address, etc.  But using DOB makes it easier to shove patients into the ‘give less-attention’ stream.

Data says fewer of the oldest cancer patients (aged over 76) are given the name of a clinical nurse specialist;  as one elderly friend said, “it has taken me three years of fighting before I finally have been given the name of a nurse to contact when I have problems.  Yet all the younger patients who were treated at the same time as me, were given a nurse to help them”.

As The Queen and Prince Philip show, today the elderly lead full and active lives.  Isn’t it time the NHS took this into account, and ensured EVERYONE had access to the most appropriate treatment?

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