Overweight Patients, Smokers Restricted From Surgery

In an attempt to cut medical costs, doctors have started restricting patients who are either overweight or who smoke from undergoing certain medical procedures. The basis for this action is based on new broad-range restrictions that were recommended by managers of the National Health Service (NHS).

This new act is part of a movement making its way across England and Wales that is seeking ways for primary care trusts (PCTs) to find new measures and restrictions that can be used to trim medical expenses for doctors.

The move is being supported by many experts, including Tony Kostick. Kostick holds the position as the joint chair of the clinical executive committee at NHS Herfordshire. He is also the chair of East and North Herts GP Commissioning Consortium.

Kostick argues that such a drastic step is not based merely on personal opinion, but has been supported by sound clinical evidence.

“It's divisive in the sense some GPs don't want to confront the rationing debate,” said Kostick. “We spend fortunes on treatments of limited clinical value.”

Local Medical Committees (LMCs) have teamed with many GP leaders to show their support of the changes being implemented by NHS Hertfordshire. These guidelines include such restrictions as ensuring that patients have a BMI, or body mass index, of less than 30 percent before they are referred for joint replacement hip surgery. Those who exceed this limit will have to be referred to a weight management program before the surgery.

For patients who are smokers, doctors will cease referring patients for orthopedic surgery until they have been referred to some type of program to help them quit smoking.

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