Over 90s should not ‘clog up’ NHS, says former chief adviser

A Government Chief Scientific Adviser under Tony Blair has been criticised for advising over 90s to avoid “clogging up” the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Professor Sir David King says such patients should refuse hospital treatment because he deems them unlikely to survive at their age.

Ruthe Isden, Age UK’s Head of Health Influencing, warned: “It’s not helpful for anyone to make these calls according to arbitrary across the board rules”.


Sir David’s advice comes as hospitals consider restricting ventilators and intensive care beds to those deemed to have the highest chances of survival during the pandemic.

“I think it’s fair to ask people in the region of 90 or 95 years old to think twice before going into hospital under the present circumstances,” Sir David told The Telegraph.

“The truth is that people of that age are, in many cases, unlikely to come out of hospital once they go in. And of course there is a risk that you are overburdening the NHS. We really don’t want 90-year-olds clogging up hospitals at this critical time.”

But Isden countered: “Using someone’s age is a very easy way for people to make decisions, but it’s not the right way”


Ciarán Kelly, Deputy Director for Communications at The Christian Institute, said: “The elderly and vulnerable can often feel uncertain about whether their lives are still worth living and fear becoming a burden to those close to them.

“All human beings are made in the image of God and have a special, intrinsic, value regardless of how old or able-bodied that life might be.

“People should not be valued purely in terms of their benefit to others or what society gains from their existence.”

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