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6 | Grey Pride: A manifesto

The facts

• The RCN considers one

registered nurse to seven

patients an appropriate ratio

for basic safe care. Older

people's wards regularly

average one nurse for 10.3


• 19% of nurses said they

were unable to provide older

patients with adequate help to

manage pain.

• 17% said they were unable

to properly care for dying


• Less than half of registered

nurses thought health care

assistants had the training

they needed to care for older


• 62% of people with

osteoarthritis said a doctor

or nurse had never discussed

with them how to keep the

condition from worsening.

• 70% of people who had been

seriously injured following two

or more falls in the past year

reported that their doctors

or nurses had not tried to

understand the underlying

causes of past falls.

Priority: Institutional ageism in health

Nowhere does the impact of

demographic change play out more

vividly than in the health service,

where two-thirds of hospital patients

are over the retirement age.

NHS England's Chief Executive Officer

Simon Stevens recently admitted it

was morally wrong to "have a modern

health service that is not treating older

patients with dignity and compassion".

Yet repeated studies have shown that is

exactly what we have.

The Centre for Policy on Ageing in 2009

concluded that "care and support for

older people with long-term conditions is

unjustifiably inequitable".

In 2010, the Health Service Ombudsman

found "the NHS is failing to treat older

people with care". Twice as many cases

involving older people were investigated by

the Ombudsman than all other age groups


In the same year, The English Longitudinal

Study of Ageing found older people were

often not given the treatment they were

entitled to nor spoken to about how to

reduce the symptoms of conditions such

as diabetes and osteoarthritis or following

repeated falls.

More recently, a 2014 Kings Fund

report highlighted research showing that

general medical conditions are treated

more effectively than common geriatric

conditions. Less than half of patients with

poor vision, osteoporosis or arthritis are

receiving basic quality care.

The Association of the British

Pharmaceutical Industry expressed


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