Patients in East Yorkshire need to lose more weight before surgery

Operating theatre
Image caption The Get Fit for your Operation scheme was introduced in October 2017

Patients in East Yorkshire who need non-urgent surgery will now have to lose even more weight before they can have an operation.

East Riding of Yorkshire CCG has lowered the required Body Mass Index (BMI) level from 35 to 30.

Obese patients will be given support to reduce their weight over six months before receiving surgery.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said the change was "unfair and ignores clinical guidance".

The CCG first introduced its Get Fit for your Operation policy in October 2017.

Since then more than 750 people have signed up for the programme with 60% completing the six-month weight loss programme. The scheme also provides support to people to give up smoking.

Chair of the CCG Dr Anne Jeffreys said the reduction in the BMI threshold was to "bring the scheme in-line with the national definition of obesity; a person with a BMI of 30 or above".

"After a six-month period patients are eligible for referral to surgery irrespective of whether weight has been lost, providing they have been encouraged and supported to access a weight loss service," said Dr Jeffreys.

Figures obtained by the BBC in 2017, showed that 62% of CCGs in England were restricting surgery based on patients BMI.

A number of other CCGs, including York, Bath and Hertfordshire, have already set a BMI of 30 as the target for patients.

Professor Neil Mortensen, vice president of the RCS of England, said although the organisation supported attempts to help people to lose weight it "fiercely oppose blanket restrictions that delay or deny patients' timely access to the operations they need".

Prof Mortensen said that the BMI threshold of 30 would exclude surgery to "a good number of the players" in the England World Cup rugby squad.

"Such an approach is short-sighted as it can lead to the need for prolonged pain relief medication, impact a patient's quality of life and ability work, and increase the likelihood of them needing social care support," he said.

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