Archive for May, 2012

Britain denies treatment for obese & smokers

Friday, May 4th, 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/28/doctors-treatment-denial-smokers-obese

A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS‘s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”. Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking.

Dr Tim Ringrose, Doctors.net.uk’s chief executive, said the findings represented a significant shift in doctors’ thinking brought on by the NHS in England’s need to save £20bn by 2015. “This might appear to be only a slim majority of doctors in favour of limiting treatment to some patients who fail to look after themselves, but it represents a tectonic shift for a profession that has always sought to provide free healthcare from the cradle to the grave,” he said.

Smokers and obese people are already being denied operations such as IVF, breast reconstructions and a new hip or knee in some parts of England. The medical magazine Pulse last month found that 25 of 91 primary care trusts (PCTs) had introduced treatment bans for those groups since April 2011.

Bedfordshire PCT, for example, decided to withhold hip and knee surgery from obese patients until they had slimmed down by 10% or had a body mass index of under 35. Similarly, North Essex PCT obliged obese people to lose 5% of their bodyweight and keep the pounds shed for at least six months before receiving treatment.

But Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the survey findings and trend towards “lifestyle rationing” was “very disturbing”.

Charles-Henri Sansom