Promoting age equality
We have a shared vision of a health and social care system where equal access to and appropriate delivery of the best quality cancer care services are available to everyone, irrespective of age, living with and beyond cancer.
The Equality Act 2010
Age discrimination in cancer care is now against the law. In October 2012 the provisions within the Equality Act (2010) which prohibit age discrimination were extended to the field of goods and services. This means that public sector organisations, including cancer services, are required to eliminate unequal treatment on the grounds of age.
The act applies to “direct” or “indirect” discrimination against a person because of age. Ageism occurs when an assumption is made about an individual based on age. Direct age discrimination is the action that is taken as a result of that assumption. Making an assumption that someone will not tolerate a treatment on the basis of age alone, and subsequently not offering that treatment, is an act of direct age discrimination. Service provision that disadvantages those with needs commonly associated with ageing may constitute indirect age discrimination.
This legislation does not prevent age being taken into account in decision making, where it can objectively justified. Healthcare providers need to consider whether their design and delivery of services could be objectively justified to the satisfaction of a court if challenged.
The NHS constitution
The NHS Constitution says 'You have the right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services including on grounds of gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability (including learning disability and mental illness) or age'.
A number of steps have been taken to promote age equality in health and social care:
in 2001 the National Service Framework for Older People was introduced
the Department of Health have commissioned a number of reviews which examine age equality in health and social care
in 2010 NHS Southwest and the Department of Health produced an NHS Practice Guide for achieving age equality. This guide has a section on cancer services
in 2012 the provisions of the Equality Act will be extended to cover goods and services. This will have implications for health and social care. Find out more information here.
Macmillan has commissioned the following reports which include accounts of older peoples experiences of cancer:
Walking into the Unknown [PDF]
Growth Negligence [PDF 3.5MB]