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Older people with mental health problems "denied NHS services"

People over the age of 65 who suffer from mental health problems are often discriminated against in the NHS because of their age, the Healthcare Commission has said in a report.

The watchdog said that older people often find themselves shut out of specialist services because of cost or because they are not referred on by a GP.

Around 40% of older people who visit their GP are estimated to have a mental health problem and the report - Equality in Later Life - said that mental health problems among older people will become more of an NHS problem in the future.

Researchers spoke to more than 600 people across six mental health trusts, including staff, patients, carers and social workers. Two trusts were found to be treating people on the basis of need rather than age but other trusts were lagging behind and the study says that "urgent attention" is needed.

The report says: "Most trusts were struggling to make progress, and older people were denied access to the full range of mental health services that are available to younger adults. In particular, there was poor access to out-of-hours and crisis services, psychological therapies and alcohol services."

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Healthcare Commission