Smokers and the overweight banned from non-urgent surgery in Hertfordshire

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[Jeremy Hunt’s Tate & Lyle lanyard after speech on obesity – Conservative Party Conf.]

On the 12th October Herts Valleys and East & North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) announced a number of distressing decisions to NHS service provision in the county of Hertfordshire.

Herts Valleys CCG’s full statement on the 13th October can be found here.

In order to make savings the CCG have arbitrarily decided to deny surgery to:

  • Those with a BMI above 40, who must reduce their weight by 15%
  • Those with a BMI above 30, who must reduce their weight by 10%
  • Smokers, until they have ceased smoking for 8 weeks or more

(BMI = Body Mass Index)

The Royal College of Surgeons has criticised these plans saying that “the singling out of groups of patients to save money is wrong.

Not only is this policy fundamentally against the ethos of our National Health Service, to discriminate against patients on the basis of lifestyle choices, but it will not lead to long lasting savings or better patient outcomes. It carries the message of bullying from the Government: ‘you are not worthy of public money, and we wont spend it on you’.

In March, Rachael Maskell, Labour MP York Central wrote an article in OurNHS entitled Why you can’t solve the NHS’s problems by banning smokers and the obese from treatment about similar plans already rolled out in York. It is worth reading and sharing widely, to demonstrate how abhorrent and illogical these changes are.

The Canary’s article The Conservatives just ended universal healthcare. Certain groups will be banned from surgery highlights the current Government’s culpability for these sorts of decisions, which have come about through their deliberate underfunding of the NHS and their worsening of postcode lotteries in implementing CCGs and STPs. This while the Government fails to tackle the food industry (and Hunt is happy to wear sponsorship from the sugar industry’s totemic brand name – Tate & Lyle.)

In addition to the horrifying changes above, Hertfordshire also announced that female sterilisation will no longer be funded and gluten-free food will no longer be available on prescription. Unsurprisingly the CCGs have also opted to stop funding IVF treatment and other specialist fertility treatments, we have posted previously about IVF and the growing postcode lottery across the UK.

The following mainstream news outlets reported on the CCG’s decision:
The Guardian
The Express
The Telegraph
The Independent
The Independent

Please join us in the fight to reinstate the NHS fully to public ownership.

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