Controversial plans have been drawn up by the NHS trust in Hertfordshire, which could see patients indefinitely banned from surgery unless they lose weight or quit smoking.
The drastic plans will see cancer patients, the frail elderly and those with mental health issues exempt.
The restrictions will apply to all non urgent operations including hip and knee replacements, as well as cutting IVF treatment – this can mean that those who can afford these services will buy them, leaving those unable to afford them to go without.
With the average person in the UK paying £5,518 in taxes a year, which is the main sources of funding for the NHS, many will be left asking – is this a way of singling out patients?
A report by the NHS estimates that around 25 per cent of adults in the UK are obese, while 15 per cent of the population smokes.
The guidelines for obesity are set by the scheme at any one who has a body mass index(BMI) of 35.
Patients will be sent to weight loss and exercise classes, while smokers will be offered counselling and stop smoking aids – however, if after nine months they are still obese or smoking then their circumstances will be considered by a clinical panel.
The Royal College of Surgeons has described this as “going against clinical guidelines”, by “[leaving] patients waiting long periods of time in pain and discomfort”.
While also previously describing these schemes as ‘shocking’ and ‘wrong’ it is clear that the NHS has provoked fury among both professionals and the public.
Managers have announced the plans in a bid to try and save £11.5 million this year, whilst also claiming patients will benefit more if they are in better health.