Surgery ban for smokers and obese in new proposal

Two clinical commissioning groups in Hertfordshire have announced plans for those who smoke or whose weight is classified as obese to improve their health before they have non-urgent surgery.

The controversial plans, outlined by East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, have been labelled as ‘discriminatory’ and going against the fundamental principles of the NHS.

The groups content that such a policy would ‘free up limited NHS resources for priority treatment’, and encourage people to ‘take more responsibility for their own health and well-being’.

The criteria means that smokers will only be referred for operations if they have stopped smoking for at least eight weeks, with such patients breathalysed before referral.

The chair of East and North Hertfordshire CCG said that ‘some of our patients will have to make changes and they will be supported to do so’ and pinpointed the free weight-loss and stop-smoking advice sessions already on offer to such patients.

Among those against the plans, St Albans City and District Council’s health and well-being partnership claimed the restrictions would set a ‘dangerous precedent’, whilst West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust warned on ‘significant opposition’ to the proposals.