Smokers and the obese banned from surgery

Smokers and the obese banned from surgery

By William Smith

Smokers and the obese are being hit by a battery of new restriction which limit their access to treatment unless they change their lifestyles, it has been revealed in Pulse.

Over a quarter of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have reported in the past year that new restrictions on surgery have been introduced based on lifestyle.  The Pulse reports that a senior lawyer warned that the trusts could be open to legal challenge on equality grounds.  Some doctors claim that the ‘fat and fags’ restrictions are discriminating unfairly against patients.

Since April 2011 25 PCTs have brought in new restrictions on treating obese patients or smokers, according to the Freedom of Information responses from 91 PCTs.  Eleven PCTs have introduced restrictions on hip and knee replacement whilst nine are restricting IVF.  Other procedures which have been restricted to smokers and the obese are nipple inversions, breast reconstruction and MRI scans. 

The Pulse reports that in Cornwall, Devon, Torbay and Plymouth, both men and women have been banned from undergoing IVF unless they have not smoked for at least six months.  NHS Bedfordshire has barred obese patients from hip and knee surgery unless they lose 10% of initial body weight or reached below BMI 35.  NHS North Essex insists that patients have lost at least 5% of their initial weight and maintained that loss for a minimum of six months.

NHS Hertfordshire brought in a ban on hip and knee operations for patients with a BMI of more than 30 and for smokers last year unless the individual attended a smoking cessation course but have now extended this exclusion policy to all routine surgery.

We wonder where this will end, if smokers and the obese are to be excluded from surgery will drinkers and drug users be targeted next?

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