York & North Yorkshire

Obese patients and smokers face surgery delays in York

Obese woman Image copyright PA
Image caption The new policy has been approved by NHS England and will start in January

Health bosses have approved plans to delay routine surgery for smokers and obese people.

The restrictions, brought in by NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), mean overweight patients will have to lose 10% of their weight before surgery.

Smokers face a six-month delay.

Clare Marx, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said that "patients should be treated equally according to their symptoms".

The CCG said only elective surgery for non-life threatening procedures, such as hip and knee operations, would be affected.

The new rule will be introduced in January.

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Clinical lead Dr Shaun O'Connell denied reports the measures amounted to a ban on surgery.

He claimed the change would bring patients the "best possible health outcomes in the long term" while helping to protect finances.

"There is no ban and no blanket policy," said Dr O'Connell.

"People who do not wish to access the support services or fail to meet the criteria will not be denied their operation, decisions about what is in the best interests of their health, will be made on a case-by-case basis."

'Clinical need'

The CCG, which serves a population of more than 351,000 in areas including York, Selby and Tadcaster and parts of East Yorkshire proposed the surgery delay in September, but it was put on hold when NHS England and the RCS raised concerns.

NHS England has now approved the plan.

RCS president Clare Marx said she thought the CCG's decision was "financially motivated".

"We think all patients should be treated according to their clinical need," she said.

"We really do believe that everybody needs to eat healthy and if possible give up smoking, but that should not be the deciding factor on whether or not you eventually you get your operation in a timely manner."

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