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Older people missing out on surgery

18th July 2014

A recent report has found that older people in the UK are still facing age discrimination when it comes to surgery. The report details how older people are treated by the NHS and suggests how elderly residents receiving certain surgeries could actually save the NHS money whereby they can regain a level of mobility and independence and avoid lengthy hospital stays.

The report from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) found that receiving lifesaving surgery as an older person in the UK is more akin to that of a postcode lottery than the natural right that necessary surgery should be. While older people have access to mobility aids such as stairlifts and grab rails in order to carry out a more independent lifestyle, it would appear as though their right to surgery is not so straightforward.

To base on clinical need, not age

The report has highlighted how crucial it is that GPs refer patients for procedures based on their clinical need, not on that of their age. Some surgeries could not only help prolong their life, but help with mobility and independence, therefore reducing long-term NHS costs.

RCS president Professor Norman Williams said in this article, “Clinical Commissioning Groups could actually save money by commissioning operations which would help a patient to regain their independence and mobility. This is why it is crucial that surgeons and GPs refer people for an operation on the basis of their clinical need and not their age.”

As well as being discriminative by age it would appear that there is also variation in the nature of referrals by region; there is widespread variation in surgeries for the over-65s by the area in which people live.

While walk in shower enclosures can help with the reduction of falls in the elderly, this could be significantly improved if there was better access to surgeries that could potentially improve mobility as a whole and therefore restore independence for many UK residents.

Image Credit: Alyssa L. Miller (

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.