Stoke & Staffordshire

Obesity surgery man loses court fight against PCT

Tom Condliff
Image caption Mr Condliff says he needs the stomach operation to save his life

A grandfather has lost his High Court battle over a health trust's refusal to fund obesity surgery.

Ex-police officer Tom Condliff, 62, who weighs 22 stone (139kg), says he needs the stomach operation to save his life.

He took North Staffordshire PCT to court on grounds that a refusal to fund a gastric bypass operation violated his rights under the Human Rights Act.

But a judge sitting at London's High Court rejected the Staffordshire man's bid for judicial review on Thursday.

Not overeating

Mr Condliff, of Talke, has a body mass index (BMI) of 43 - not high enough to qualify for surgery.

Judge Waksman said he had "considerable sympathy" for him but the claim must fail.

Mr Condliff became obese because of the drugs he has taken to treat long-term diabetes, and the weight gain was not due to overeating, the court was told.

He said he would rather avoid surgery, involving removing part of his intestine and stomach, but without it his life was in danger.

"If I don't get it, doctors say my kidneys will quickly fail and then I'll have three years to live," he said.

Mr Condliff suffers from 13 illnesses, takes 28 different drugs and uses breathing masks and inhalers.

Judge Waksman said Mr Condliff had tried non-surgical interventions including dietary, lifestyle changes and drugs.

He said everyone agreed gastric bypass surgery was "clinically appropriate" for him.

Human rights

But North Staffordshire PCT provided routine surgery only for those with a BMI of more than 50.

Supported by his GP and specialists treating him, Mr Condliff applied for funding in February 2010 on the grounds that his case was "exceptional", but it was rejected.

A second request was made, with evidence that Mr Condliff's physical and mental condition was deteriorating, but it was also rejected.

The judge said it was argued on Mr Condliff's behalf that the PCT decision breached his right to respect for his private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Dismissing his claim, the judge ruled his Article 8 rights had not been violated.

North Staffordshire PCT says it has to make difficult decisions in order to do the best for its patient population on the limited funds available.

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