Smokers and obese people will be denied surgery on the NHS by cash-strapped hospitals trying to save money, senior health officials have warned.
It’s the only way providers are going to be able to balance their books… the service is bursting at the seams.
The group said the decision has been made as “the best way of achieving maximum value from the limited resources available”.
The Royal College of Surgeons has described the decision as “the most severe the modern NHS has ever seen” amid concerns the NHS’ funding crisis is seriously impeding its ability to function.
Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers, told The Daily Telegraph: “I think we are going to see more and more decisions like this. It’s the only way providers are going to be able to balance their books, and in a way you have to applaud their honesty.
“You can see why they’re doing this – the service is bursting at the seams.”
Luton Care Commissioning Group and East and North Hertfordshire also require a patient to have a BMI of 30 or lower in order to qualify for an operation. Others have reportedly refused surgery to smokers, requiring them to quit before operations can go ahead.
Earlier this year, research by the Royal College of Surgeons found a third of local NHS health trusts put restrictions on access to surgery – contrary to official guidance on how patients should be treated.
Critics say this can result in some patients being subjected to prolonged pain, without due justification. Others have raised concerns the move is motivated by desire to save money, instead of patient safety. The NHS overspent by £2.45bn in 2015-16.