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Doctors 'discriminate against older patients'

14th February 2007

Elderly people are being denied treatments that because doctors are discriminating against them on the basis of their age, according to a new study.

A survey in Quality and Safety in Health Care found nearly half of the 90 doctors questioned treated over 65-year-olds differently.

GPs, heart experts and care specialists were questioned about how they would treat 72 fictional angina patients.

Their responses revealed that older patients would be less likely to be offered cholesterol-lowering statins and surgical treatments.

They were also less likely to be referred to a cardiologist and have certain tests denied, but were more likely to have their medication changed and to be called back at a later date.

One doctor commented: "I'd like to think that I would treat the individual. I think generally you have to try and identify from an individual what is in their best interests. I don't think bypass surgery in an 87 year old is in their interests."

Professor Ann Bowling, who led the University College London study, told the Telegraph: "Resources are limited and doctors have to make difficult decisions. They may see older people as less deserving."