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Age Concern deplores healthcare ageism

22 August 2006

Age Concern New Zealand Inc

Age Concern deplores healthcare ageism

Any move to ration older people’s health care, as suggested today, is abhorrent says Age Concern New Zealand.

An anonymous Christchurch senior nurse told the media, “nurses are fed up with surgical wards that look like rest homes”.

“We are absolutely horrified,” Age Concern New Zealand Chief Executive Ann Martin says.

“When people and systems are under stress, they can be tempted to lash out at easy targets. Age Concern New Zealand is disturbed that older people are again being used as scapegoats for problems in the health sector.

“This is straight-out prejudice: targeting a vulnerable group, lumping them all together and writing them off, rather than seeing them as individuals with lives and families and differing needs,” Ann Martin said.

“We look to the nursing profession to provide the best possible health care for all people who need it. If the anonymous nurse isn’t prepared to do this, we think she should re-think her professional future.

“Patients are either being treated or cured, or should be receiving end-of-life palliative care. Either way, this needs to be a conscious decision that the older person participates in.

Ann Martin rejects the idea that priorities need to be “sorted out” and points to the Government’s Health of Older People Strategy which supports the rights of older people to appropriate health care.

“We need assurances from the Canterbury District Health Board that older people can be sure of care that is every bit as good as younger patients receive.

“We are confident that the quality of the outcomes is being taken into account by clinicians when they’re deciding people’s access to surgery. There’s no need to target older people for ageist abuse.

“If health care was to be rationed by age, where would society draw the line? If 90-year-olds are ‘past it’ this year, would 80-year-olds be next?

“If older people receive medical treatment they need, their quality of life is maintained and they are more able to continue contributing to their communities,” Ann Martin said.


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