Devon

NHS Devon failed obesity curb 'will increase debt'

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

Failure of a plan to limit surgery for obese people and smokers will force an NHS body further into debt, bosses say.

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG dropped the move aimed at cutting its £14.5m deficit.

Chief financial officer Hugh Groves said in a report that the failed move was among factors that had "impacted" on its "financial recovery plan".

He said he expected debts to rise by about another £13m to £26.7m by the end of the financial year.

'Urgent and necessary'

He told the clinical commissioning group, which organises delivery of health services, that other factors behind the projected rise were increases in emergency surgery and in patients during the winter.

The CCG called plans to limit surgery on obese people and smokers "urgent and necessary" when it announced them last October.

As part of the cost-cutting measures, patients with a body mass index 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.

But the plans were dropped last December after they drew criticism from the Royal College of Surgeons, which said losing weight was not possible for some.

The CCG has agreed new guidance to GPs that patients "will be encouraged but not required to lose weight" and smokers will be "encouraged but not required to stop smoking".

No-one was available for further comment from the CCG.

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