The UK’s National Health Service is reshuffling its priorities, and you go to the bottom of the list:
Obese people will be routinely refused operations across the NHS, health service bosses have warned, after one authority said it would limit procedures on an unprecedented scale.
Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above — as well as smokers — will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations.
The decision, described by the Royal College of Surgeons as the “most severe the modern NHS has ever seen”, led to warnings that other trusts will soon be forced to follow suit and rationing will become the norm if the current funding crisis continues.
Which, of course, it will:
The restrictions echo others made by health bosses in Hertfordshire, the North West and London in the past two years, where blanket referral bans were imposed on patients on the basis of their weight.
Last month St Helens CCG in Merseyside said it was considering temporarily suspending all non-essential hospital referrals by GPs because of financial concerns.
Reports of rationing have emerged after NHS England admitted in May that its provider sector overspent by £2.45 billion in 2015-16, more than a threefold increase on the previous year.
The figure, which was described as conservative by think-tanks, prompted some hospital chief executives to question the future viability of free universal healthcare.
What are the chances Her Majesty’s Government will abandon the effort? Pretty close to nil.