Age UK responds to Health White Paper
Published on 12 July 2010 09:00 AM
Age UK responds to Health White Paper ‘Equity and Excellence - liberating the NHS'
In response to the Health White Paper ‘Equity and Excellence - liberating the NHS', Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, said:
"GPs currently play a vital role in managing the health of older people and the wider community, but asking them to play a central role in commissioning NHS services carries considerable risks.
"People in later life often need to access a range of health services such as those preventing ill health, support following a hospital stay and complex packages of care for the most frail. Many GPs simply won't have the expertise to address these and other components of commissioning because that is not the role they took on in becoming family doctors.
"Despite three quarters of NHS clients being aged 65 and over, GPs regularly overlook needs of older patients, for example in treatment for depression. By placing the pressure on GPs to commission a wide range of services, while delivering care and managing huge budgets, older people could face further age discrimination in decision-making over the provision on services. In light of these concerns, the Government's commitment to ending age inequalities across the NHS by 2012 is more important than ever.
"For this White Paper to work in practice, older people need to be consulted about what they want from their health service and for specialists in older age medicine to be represented on the proposed NHS board. GPs also need more training and awareness about health needs in later life to provide older people with the appropriate care and support.
"While other groups might be able to ‘vote with their feet' on an underperforming GP service, for many vulnerable, frail older people, this isn't the case. It is crucial a robust monitoring system is put in place to ensure everyone is guaranteed a minimum standard of service from their GP."
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Notes to Editors
Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. The Age UK family includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI.
Media contact: Vicky Smith
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