Nice guidelines slammed by older people’s charities

Older people’s charities have attacked proposed guidance
for the NHS, which says that age discrimination in deciding
treatment could be appropriate in some cases, writes
Paul Stephenson

The recommendation comes in a consultation document from the
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which
produces guidance for the NHS on the use of drugs and

In proposed guidance on “social value judgements”,
NICE says it recommends that “where age is an indicator of
benefit of risk, age discrimination is appropriate”. Although
it rejects age being used in any other way, its suggestion that it
could be a determinant of treatment was attacked as deeply

Age Concern health policy adviser Philip Hurst said: “The
assumption is that people of a certain age have the same
characteristics. Age is a very poor indicator of likelihood of
ability to benefit, or of harm. The logic would be that someone
aged 64 would benefit from a treatment, and someone aged 65 would

Help the Aged health and social care policy manager Jonathan
Ellis said: “The problem is that age is a very blunt
instrument to use as a means of making those decisions about scarce
resources. At its best it is based on statistical averages, and at
worst it is based on prejudice. We simply don’t have reliable
knowledge about what is best for older people.

“It has got to come down to an individual decision by an
individual doctor with an individual patient.”

The consultation ends on 30 June.

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