Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Primary Colour

Helen Salisbury: Older lives are not worth less

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3915 (Published 13 October 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3915

Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

  1. Helen Salisbury, GP
  1. Oxford
  1. helen.salisbury{at}phc.ox.ac.uk
    Follow Helen on Twitter: @HelenRSalisbury

If you’re lucky, age brings wisdom and leisure, but for many it means illness, frustration, and failing bodies. “I’m sorry to be such a nuisance, doctor,” older patients often tell me. I reassure them that they’re not a nuisance and that, if they didn’t trouble me with their ailments, I’d be out of a job.

While a few patients stockpile medication, others worry about “bankrupting the NHS” and try to avoid any treatment that’s not strictly necessary. I try to explain that they’ve already paid for the care and medicines they now need, through a lifetime of taxes.

In this pandemic, I’ve been reminded again of the risk of ageism in healthcare. …

View Full Text