NHS refusing services to smokers, obese patients until they go to health boot camp for six months

Obese people, as well as smokers, will be refused of services by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) until they go to a health boot camp for six months to try and lose weight, according to a Daily Mail report.

These patients will be referred to the health optimization program of the NHS and taught to improve their behaviors before having surgery. The plan will be executed in the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), a health trust in East Yorkshire which serves 313,400 patients.

According to documents revealed by Health Service Journal, the scheme will be introduced in the Vale of York CCG in October.

The policy will be applied to all other non-urgent, non-life-threatening operations such as hip and knee replacements or hernia procedures. On the other hand, patients awaiting surgery for cancer, the frail elderly, or anyone with severe mental health problems will be exempted from the scheme. (Related: NHS doctors, nurses say government-run healthcare a dismal failure that puts lives at risk.)

It is stated in a document from the CCG that the scheme will offer people who are obese or people who smoke, a referral to either a weight management program or stop-smoking services. Moreover, it was stated that patients who smoke or are obese have an increased clinical risk of suffering complications during or after their operation. As well as improving their overall health and well-being, patients who make changes such as stopping smoking or losing weight can improve the results of their surgery.

Any person who needs surgery but has a body mass index (BMI) of 35, which is morbidly obese, or who smokes will be referred to the program for six months.

Obese patients will be sent to weight loss and exercise classes, while smokers will be offered smoking cessation counseling and nicotine patches. Regardless if they do not lose weight or stop smoking after six months, they will still be put forward for the operation. NHS managers are trying to save 11.5 million British Pounds this year. They said that the important thing is that patients are encouraged to have healthier lifestyles, irrespective of whether they succeed or not.

The managers claimed that patients will get more benefit from operations if they are in better health.

Policies like this were previously described by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) as “wrong” and “shocking” as all patients should have the right of being treated.

Other health trusts have considered imposing similar policies in the past months, but it is not clear how many of these are in place. According to an NHS report, around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 are obese in the United Kingdom.

Last November, the Vale of York CCG, which is a neighboring health trust, announced that smokers and obese patients would be denied surgery for up to a year and they would be put forward for operations sooner unless they either quit smoking or lost 10 percent of their body weight.

“Leaving patients waiting in pain for treatment longer than is clinically necessary cannot be accepted,” condemned Clare Marx, President of the RCS, in a report by The Telegraph.

“At this rate, we may see brutal service reductions becoming the norm, rather than just being exceptions,” Marx said.

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