Pensioners with cancer are being written off as too old to treat, campaigners said yesterday. They cited figures showing survival rates for British patients aged 75 and over are among the worst in Europe.
Young lung cancer sufferers are only 10 per cent more likely to die within five years than their continental counterparts. But pensioners with the disease have 44 per cent less chance of survival. The figure for stomach cancer – at 45 per cent – is even worse.
And Britons with prostate cancer are a fifth less likely to survive than Europeans if they are 85 and over.
Why is the situation so bad in the UK? Because an overstrained national health care system has to death panel somebody to open up resources for the Pakistani, Somali and Bangladeshi families overruning its cities.
Older people are being denied vital surgery for cancer, hernia repairs and joint replacements because the NHS imposes “cutoffs” for treatment based on age discrimination, a report has warned.
The study found that while people’s health needs increase as they grow older, rates of planned surgery for some common conditions among older people steadily decline.
Life expectancy is 78 for men and 82 for women. Yet men and women who need a new hip or knee, usually owing to arthritis or a fall, are most likely to get one up to the age of 75 but less likely to do so after that, even though National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines to the NHS say age should not influence whether someone has that surgery, given its benefits.
Joint replacements appear to be increasingly restricted as the NHS rations treatments in an attempt to save £20bn by 2015. That financial pressure could mean older people are disproportionately affected by this trend in coming years, the report warns.
The statistics back it up.
Nearly half of health professionals (45%) say they have dealt with a cancer patient who has been refused treatment on the grounds they were too old and nearly two in three (67%) said they have heard health professionals speak to older cancer patients in a condescending or dismissive way.