Surgical rationing for smokers…

From Pulse**, today:-

“Exclusive: GPs have been blocked from referring smokers for any routine elective surgery unless patients quit or complete an NHS Stop Smoking course, under a draconian package of PCT cost-cutting measures.”

**Sign-up might be required.

For my money, all smokers should be confined in a sealed environment and left to smoke their heads off until the oxygen is gone, since if it wasn’t for spending 60-odd years of my life being poisoned by the selfish bastards I most certainly wouldn’t be as ill as I am today.

To be honest, then, I don’t have a problem with that policy, except insofar as it might very well be the thin end of the wedge – if it’s smokers now, who’s next? And it’s elective (non-urgent) surgery now – how long before it’s any surgery? Need a by-pass? Tough shit, until you cut down on the chips and deep-fried grease-burgers. Oh, and the fags!

And what’s in the rest of that “draconian package” and, equally importantly, how fast will these “draconian” ideas spread.

I have a friend who is already being denied surgery on his knee because he’s fat, even though the problem – a loose fragment of cartilage – is not weight-related, and could be fixed in about half an hour via keyhole surgery.

So, is the next restriction going to be imposed on fat people? I’ve gone my entire life needing nothing more serious than a toenail removal (though that almost cost me a foot, due to infection when the skin graft failed to take, and decayed), but whether that will continue is debatable – am I going to be denied surgery, if needed, because I’m fat too?

I’m fat, by the way, due to illness-enforced inactivity and steroids, so losing weight is almost impossible. What happens, then, should I need surgery? I may well need a new hip before too much longer. Mind you, having seen the actual surgery on TV, I’ll settle for a wheelchair. And no, I’m not being facetious.

Also, I know quite a few people who have had joint-replacement surgery – elbows, knees, hips – and not one of them has been happy with the outcome, either from the pain or the mobility aspect, and one ended up profoundly disabled and died.

So the idea of joint replacement fails utterly to fill me with enthusiasm. Many others, of course, feel exactly the opposite, yet as arthritis restricts activity, many will be overweight. And while the trolls at NICE have long said that exercise is good for us, it hasn’t occurred to them that effective pain meds are a prerequisite if we are to exercise at all. If being fat is the next restriction on elective surgery, watch the rate of joint replacements plummet.

Anyway, West Kent, Medway, and Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS trusts have already put forward plans to halt referrals for a whole raft of procedures, including bariatric surgery, IVF, and gender reassignment. And I’d really like to know what other measures they have planned, as well as what other areas are up to. (And why does it always seem to be Kent at the forefront of anything not in the public interest – not too long ago it was police drones.)

On a lighter note, an email from the Guardian says it’s less than two weeks to Christmas – not here, it isn’t.


2 thoughts on “Surgical rationing for smokers…

  1. I’m with you on this: I’ve also met various victims of NHS joint replacements, all of which have had more problems afterward than before, so if I ever need one, I’ll be electing to turn down the opportunity, thank you.

    Otherwise, I could see this one coming. It’s life imitating art (if Holby City can be called art), where such policies were made part of a story line and yes, that targeted the fat, the unfit and the junk food eaters, along with the smokers.

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