Discrimination in acute hospitals against older people needs to be robustly challenged says Mervyn Taylor, Manager of Sage the support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults and older people. Commenting on the results of a 10 year study in one of Ireland’s largest hospitals which showed that patients aged 80 and over wait more than twice as long for admission to a hospital bed as those aged under 20 Mr Taylor said it was astonishing to read in the research report published in the Irish Medical Journal that hospital wards cherry-pick the younger patient who is likely to have a shorter hospital stay, with the result that the elderly wait longer in the emergency department.
“That emergency departments are usually crowded with older very ill people with complex care needs is widely known” said Mr Taylor “but what is astonishing is that they are not being equally treated”. “There is no doubt in my mind that this phenomenon is not just related to the particular hospital studied but is quite widespread throughout the acute hospital sector” he said.
Referring to evidence that patients in hospitals who are accompanied have better outcomes than those who are not Mr Taylor pointed to the significant initiative in the UK, ‘John’s Campaign’ which works for the right to stay with people with dementia http://johnscampaign.org.uk
“Spouses and family members can sometimes be effective in speaking up on behalf of a person who is weak and practically voiceless but some people have nobody there for them other than extremely hard pressed staff. If the system discriminates against them because of their age and because of a fear that they will block beds for others one has to question whether the hospitals and the wider health systems have their priorities wrong”.
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