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No op unless you quit smoking

4th June 2007

People who smoke may be refused non-emergency operations by the NHS unless they stop smoking at least a month in advance.

ashtray

The proposals, put forward by Leicester City West Primary Care Trust, follow research which proved smokers have longer recovery times post-surgery and are more susceptible to infection.

The trust intends to offer smokers counselling services and nicotine replacement in order to assist them in giving up cigarettes. Doctors will test patients' blood to verify they have stopped smoking.

Smokers will still be entitled to emergency surgery. Those patients who refused to give up would remain eligible for routine operations, but could face a longer wait.

Rod Moore, the assistant director of public health at the trust, said: "If people give up smoking prior to planned operations it will improve their recovery. It would reduce heart and lung complications and wounds would heal faster. Our purpose is not to deny patients access to operations but to see if the outcomes can be improved."

The proposals have been heavily criticised by pro-smoking organisations and patients' rights groups. Michael Summers from the Patients Association told the Telegraph the idea was "wrong" and said: "These measures are clearly being driven by finance and not by clinical need."

The trust will be the first in the country to launch a consultation on this stop-smoking rule in July. Other trusts are likely to consider the idea.

A Department of Health spokesman commented: "It is up to individual primary care trusts if they want to introduce such a policy."


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Comments

Anonymous

Thursday 7th June 2007 @ 8:18

What is to happen next? If people do not give up eating fatty foods, they will not get surgery? If they do not give up drink, they will not be seen at A&E? And of course, the obligatory blood test to ensure that the patients or potential patients fall into line. Go on, give up smoking, come and get your MRSA at a local hospital near you. Stop telling people what they must or must not do but advise them. This IS a means of cutting costs and increasing the waiting lists by trying to blame the patients actions rather than the PCT.


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