Older people are frightened to complain about NHS services for fear of reprisals, and those who do are unlikely to get a response for months if not years, according to a new report from Age Concern.

Speaking Out quotes older people's battles with secrecy, intransigence, incompetence and timewasting. More than 2,000 people responded to the charity's yearlong campaign to eliminate age discrimination in the health service.

The complaints range from staff forgetting to feed patients to '222', the code for 'do not resuscitate' being written on notes without prior consultation with the patient or relatives. New guidelines on the complaints system are expected early next year.