Devon

NHS Devon smokers and obese surgery bar dropped

An overweight child can't do up his trousers Image copyright Thinkstock / Zurijeta
Image caption Morbidly obese people and smokers in Devon risked not getting routine surgery

Plans to place conditions on routine surgery for smokers and the morbidly obese in Devon have been dropped.

The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) had proposed the plan to help cut a £14.5m deficit.

The Royal College of Surgeons, which was among the critics, said losing weight was not possible for some.

The CCG, which organises the delivery of health services, reversed the plan following feedback.

As part of cost-cutting measures announced in October, patients with a BMI of 35 or above would have had to shed 5% of their weight while smokers would have had to quit eight weeks before non-essential surgery.


What is morbid obesity?

  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or more are considered morbidly obese by medical professionals
  • BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres, then dividing the answer by height again
  • Women of average height, 1.62 metres (5ft 3ins), are considered morbidly obese if they weigh more than 91.5kg (14st 6lb)
  • Men of average height, 1.75 metres (5ft 9ins), are considered morbidly obese if they weigh more than 108kg (17st)

'Wholesale rationing'

On Thursday the CCG announced that it would not require patients to undergo weight loss or stop smoking.

Image caption Former health minister Ben Bradshaw MP said the proposals were part of a "wholesale rationing" of healthcare

Ben Bradshaw, former Labour health minister and MP for Exeter, welcomed the change of plan.

He said: "What we're talking about at the moment in Devon, and I think people need to understand this, is a wholesale rationing of healthcare in a way we've never seen in the NHS."

Dr Sarah Wollaston, chairman of the Health Select Committee and Conservative MP for Totnes, said: "These kinds of measures - if they are evidence-based and good for patients - then there is an argument for saying that we do them everywhere but that wasn't the reason this was being introduced."

Image caption MP Dr Sarah Wollaston said action should be "evidence-based"

A CCG spokesman said: "We announced a series of measures to improve health outcomes in October. This produced a helpful public debate which we have followed with interest.

"We have come to the conclusion that there is already a strong public acceptance of the need for people to continue to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

"We have therefore decided to further promote smoking cessation and weight loss services to improve outcomes for patients."

It said plans to change from using some branded drugs to more generic drugs, restricting hearing aids and second cataract operations would be subject to consultation.

The management of hernias and suspension of some treatments such as ultrasound guided injections also remained under consideration.

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