NHS ‘rations’ treatments after cost cutting

Charlie Cooper writes in The Independent – More patients could be denied NHS treatments, with hearing aids, vasectomies and knee and hip operations among services set to be rationed in some areas, as a result of cost cutting by health authorties.

An investigation into 19 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which pay for NHS services at local level, carried out by GP magazine Pulse, found that several are planning to restrict access to routne care.

overweight and smoking

In some areas, smokers will be required to give up cigarettes, and obese people to lose weight, before being offered certain surgical procedures.

Earlier this year, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG introduced weight-loss and cessation-of-smoking criteria for all smokers and people with a body mass index over 35 needing hip and knee replacements.

Patients in Luton will also have to undergo a weight-loss programme or quit smoking before certain elective procedures, Pulse reported. A plan to implement a similar scheme in Devon was dropped last year shortly after it was announced, following criticism from surgeons.

Other rationing includes an NHS North Staffordshire CCG plan to deny access to hearing aids for patients with mild to moderate hearing loss – a move labelled “cruel” by the charity Action on Hearing Loss.

Dr James Kingsland, the president of the National Association of Primary Care, said that rationing “necessary care in a service that is free at the point of use” was “unacceptable”.

“Many people would agree with implementing these¬†measures that are just clutching at straws”