No Treatment for People Who Smoke or Are Obese

Smoke-ObeseIn a move that many would call discriminatory, GP commissioners and NHS officials across England are making the life of smokers and people with obesity more difficult by restricting access to treatments under “fat and fags” policy. Under this policy unless people change their lifestyles and become more health conscious, they would not have any access to treatments like fertility procedures, knee and hip operations, fat-loss surgery and breast reductions.

These facts were uncovered under the investigations covered by 91 primary care trusts in England by Pulse magazine. There have cases like in the case of Peninsula which banned patients from IVF treatment unless they gave up smoking for at least six months. In another incidence, NHS Hertfordshire banned certain patients from critical surgery for their hearts and brains.

Instead of giving them required treatment, they are sent either to weight loss programs or stop smoking clinics to come back when they are leading a healthier life style.

There are although many GPs who have some reservations against this policy describing the restrictions as dreadful. Andy Burnham, who is the Shadow health secretary, has also urged the government to step in and stop these discriminatory policies. He said,” it is outrageous on the part of NHS, who is saving money by making some disparaging decisions on the lifestyle of the people”. The department of health also concurred with this and added that it is not acceptable to blanket restrictions.

The investigation also revealed that over 25% health trusts in England have these restrictions for smokers or those who are obese. However, the NHS officials are of the view that it is only for the benefit of the patients and its main motive is to make people more self involved in health concerns.