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A very controversial plan is being proposed to give the NHS powers to refuse to operate on obese patients or those who still smoke. Clinical Commissioning Groups in Hertfordshire have drawn up the proposals, which have sparked fury across the medical spectrum.
Under the potential rules, obese patients 'will not get non-urgent surgery until they reduce their weight', unless there are exceptional circumstances involved. Smokers will be required to have quit for eight weeks before they can get access to a procedure.
The CCG's claim the police will 'improve patient safety' during and after surgery, however the plan won't result in any direct saving of funds. But the groups do believe that it will result in more long-term results for patient health.
The plan has drawn the ire of the Royal College of Surgeons, with senior vice president Ian Eardley telling the Telegraph: "Singling out patients in this way goes against the principles of the NHS. This goes against clinical guidance and leaves patients waiting long periods of time in pain and discomfort. It can even lead to worse outcomes following surgery in some cases.
"There is simply no justification for these policies, and we urge all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to urgently reverse these discriminatory measures."
It appears the plan has divided people on social media, with many venting their frustration or satisfaction at the proposal.
I fully support NHS surgery ban for smokers and obese. It's not fair on others who are leading a healthy lifestyle but require surgery
- Tunde (@iamUztaz) October 18, 2017
I'm flabbergasted at how #NHS is discriminating against obese and smokers who are patients. They pay taxes too you know.
- Mysticismlover (@mysticismlover) October 18, 2017
I'm a smoker, for 33yrs. Always worked, always paid NI/TAX. Don't drink, not obese, so why shouldn't I have NHS treatment? @theJeremyVine
- Karen Delf (@FemaleEng) October 18, 2017
- Kerry (@kerryml18) October 18, 2017
One person writes: "Goes against principles of NHS. Patients will suffer, be left in pain and have worse outcomes as they wait. Dangerous."
Karen commented saying: "I'm a smoker, for 33 years. Always worked, always paid NI/tax. Don't drink, not obese, so why shouldn't I have NHS treatment?"
However, on the other side of the debate, a Twitter user says: "I fully support NHS surgery ban for smokers and obese. It's not fair on others who are leading a healthy lifestyle but require surgery."
The proposed policy builds on a rule already adopted which requires people over a certain Body Mass Index to shed a portion of their weight before surgery, with some patients waiting up to nine months before getting the procedure.
But if the new restrictions are adopted, anyone with a BMI of 30 or more will have to lose 10 percent of their weight, while those over 40 will have to shed 15 percent. At the end of the nine-month period, if the patient hasn't lost the weight, their case will be considered by a clinical panel. However they could wait indefinitely for the procedure unless they drop the kilos.
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