Dorothy White has highlighted the often covert discrimination in the NHS exercised against older people ('Rational thinking', 25, page 11 February).

A multidisciplinary working group, set up by Health Services Accreditation, has just completed a report, Service Standards for the NHS Care of Older People, published in conjunction with the Centre for Policy on Ageing.

It is intended to assist service providers to have a clear understanding of standards and procedures for their service, and to enable patients and carers to be fully informed about treatment options.

In this way it is possible to fully utilise available resources and identify areas where they are most needed.

Rationing and public-private partnerships may find favour with the higher echelons of the NHS, but if the working group that contributed to the HSA report is anything to go by, the commitment to freely available NHS care for older people is clearly evident among those directly providing the service, and our report is intended to help achieve the highest standards.

Members of the working group were acutely aware of the difficulties of meeting the needs of this section of the population, but at no time was the idea of rationing, privatisation or private health insurance suggested as a solution.

Sarah Hadley

Standards development

Health Services Accreditation


East Sussex