BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 01:59 GMT 02:59 UK
Age discrimination 'rife' in NHS

Jill Baker's case: Tip of an iceberg?
Charity Age Concern has said discrimination against elderly patients in the NHS appears to be widespread.

Earlier this week 67-year-old cancer patient Jill Baker complained after finding "not for resuscitation" written on her medical notes.

Age Concern says the publicity surrounding the case has sparked thousands of calls from people who say they or their relatives suffered age discrimination in the NHS.

Another 40 "not for resuscitation" cases have been unearthed.

Mrs Baker's case triggered an inquiry by the Department of Health, which said her treatment was in breach of the British Medical Association's own guidelines for doctors.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "We are in the middle of a campaign against age discrimination in the health service and had in the last six months unearthed 10 cases where orders had been given by doctors not to resuscitate patients without their consent.

'Lines jammed'

"In addition we had half a dozen more people who had been casually asked about resuscitation as soon as they came into hospital with no clinical diagnosis."

She said: "Jill Baker's case, at St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, last week prompted thousands rather than the usual hundreds of calls to our information lines which were jammed.

Neither Mrs Baker nor her husband were consulted, they claim
"In just two days another 40 cases were discovered in which 'not for resuscitation' had been written on patients' notes."

The phenomenon is spread throughout the country, with cases from as far apart as Cambridge, Manchester and the South coast.

The Age Concern spokeswoman added: "Some of the reports have happened recently and some patients have died 10 years ago and their relatives are still very angry.

"They feel that elderly people are being discriminated against in a bid to avoid bed-blocking and because of a lack of resources.

"In most instances the patients were terminally ill but they had not necessarily gone into hospital because they were close to death."

One man, Brendan Moroney, discovered a "not for resuscitation" order on the medical notes of his 75-year-old mother, Patricia.

He knew what NFR stood for because of his work nursing the elderly, so he crossed it out and wrote: "Oh yes she is."

Age Concern said it planned to send its findings to Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

Playing god?
Should doctors decide the time to die?
See also:

13 Apr 00 | Health
NHS ageism row sparks action
14 Apr 00 | Health
Euthanasia Bill blocked
30 Jul 99 | Health
Elderly 'denied cancer care'
08 Nov 99 | Health
Elderly attack 'NHS ageism'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories