HC Deb 11 January 2000 vol 342 c144W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he has in place to combat age discrimination in the provision of health services. [103244]

Mr. Hutton

[holding answer 21 December 1999]: Discrimination of any kind—whether it is on the basis of age, race or gender—is completely unacceptable in the National Health Service. Treatment should rest entirely on clinical need. We are determined to provide older people with care that meets their needs—fast, efficient and sensitive. Already we have extended the annual immunisation programme for influenza to ensure that everyone aged 75 and over can have the flu vaccine free of charge. Over the next three years we will be expanding cataract services to increase the number of cataract operations from 170,000 a year currently to 250,000 a year—this will benefit thousands of older people. From 1 April this year all people aged 60 and over are entitled to free eye tests, regardless of income or health status. We are also developing a National Service framework (NSF) for Older People. This, for the first time, will set national standards for the care of older people, driving up the quality and reducing variations in that care. The NSF will be published next year.