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Professor claims university 'ageist' Faculty job decision 'ignores elderly population'.

Byline: BY GRAHAM DAVIES Daily Post Staff

LIVERPOOL University was yesterday accused of ageism for deciding not to appoint a professor of geriatrics.

Dr Jeremy Playfer, a geriatrician at the Royal Liverpool hospital, claimed the faculty of medicine was neglecting the elderly patient population.

University directors insisted the decision was prompted by a national shortage of experts in the field, making it difficult to find a suitable candidate.

Dr Playfer, who is also president of the British Geriatrics Society (BGS), said: "This decision is fundamentally wrong and has been taken at a time when two thirds of patients now in hospital are what would be considered as elderly.

"A key remit of the university is to work closely with local teaching hospitals. More than ever, we need medical specialists who understand the very complex and all-embracing factors which impact on the health and quality of life of elderly patients."

Through his role in BGS, Dr Playfer said the university's decision was part of a wider national trend that undervalues the importance of geriatric medicine and questions the value of academics in the field.

He added: "Much of this is tied in with funding issues because universities can attract more funding through scientific as opposed to clinical research.

"The whole situation is crazy. As a society, we are having to deal with increasing numbers of elderly patients, yet the commitment to further improve our understanding of this group of patients is waning."

A Liverpool University spokeswoman said the university had been unable to find a suitable candidate for the position, despite a worldwide search.

She said: "Universities across the country are facing difficulty in recruiting to chairs in geriatric medicine because there is only a very small number of people with the combination of the high quality of teaching, research and clinical expertise in geriatrics which is required.

"The University of Liverpool conducted an extensive search within the UK and internationally but was unable to identify a candidate able to meet all of requirements of this important role.

"The university fully recognises the importance of geriatric medicine for the population of Merseyside and for teaching its students.

"We have major research programmes in this area which are of international significance and we are now actively working in partnership with the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust to identify alternative ways to use the resource available to use this research and to build capacity in academic geriatric medicine.

"These plans have the full support of local consultants in geriatric care."

Dr Playfer has been President of BGS for two years. The society is the only specialist medical association in the UK for consultants who specialise in geriatric medicine.

Two thirds of patients now in hospital are elderly

graham.davies@liverpool.com
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 2, 2006
Words:460
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