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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

RCPsych responds to Healthcare Commission study of older people's mental health services

Embargoed until 31 March 2009

Dr Dave Anderson, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry, said:

“This Healthcare Commission report is yet more evidence showing why we urgently need to address age discrimination in mental health services. We know that compared to younger adults with comparable need, older people have less access to mental health services and these services in turn receive less investment.

“Through the forthcoming Equality Bill, the Government can set in UK law the fundamental right for people not to be discriminated against because of their age. But equality is not achieved by a one size fits all approach –and the commissioning of services will have to become much more aware of the needs of older people.

“We welcome the Healthcare Commission’s call for the Royal College of Psychiatrists to develop models of care based on assessment of need rather than age. The College has recently set up a working group to look at how mental health services could be designed to create greater equity and better meet the needs of older people. Greater investment in older people’s mental health services, and better access to services currently denied to older people, will be essential ingredients for delivering equality.

“Defining need in a way that produces clear responsibility and accountability for services and commissioners, and clarity for patients, carers, service users and referrers to mental health services, is a complex task - but the College is committed to finding better solutions."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Equality in later life: A national study of older people’s mental health services (2009), Healthcare Commission


Note to editors:

Equality in later life: A national study of older people’s mental health services was published by the Healthcare Commission on 31 March 2009


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