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Wednesday, November 23, 2005 

Thin is In for Britain's NHS

Thin enough for the NHS?

If you're obese and you live in Britain, you better pray you're in good health. The BBC reported that

Three Suffolk primary care trusts have ruled patients with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 will not get operations like hip and knee replacements.

Their reasoning for the ruling is as follows...

"The argument that the life of joints is reduced because people are overweight is more relevant to those with a BMI of above 40.

While I'm an adamant believer that people should take responsibility for their own choices in life, this ruling is unfair for the simple reason that it targets only one group of people who, due to their own lifestyle choices (improper diet, lack of exercise and/or overeating) have contributed to their decline in health. This ruling does not take into consideration that not all obese people can control their appetite since obesity is also an inherited problem or the result of an emotional disorder. The lifestyle of most people these days...sitting for 8 hours or more behind a computer, cash register or steering wheel doesn't afford them the time for exercise that manual labour jobs of days gone by once did.

This ruling is also a dangerous one because if obese people are being punished for their lifestyle choices, then can the same ruling can be applied to smokers who need chemotherapy for lung cancer. What about sports enthusiasts who experience higher-than-average sports injuries because of their hobbies? Can we also deny treatment for people who contract sexually transmitted diseases because it is assumed they choose to lead a promiscuous life? Anorexics who choose not to eat? Drug addicts who need to be treated for overdosing?

Obesity affects an ever-increasing amount of today's population and health practitioners are correct to be worried about the cost of treating the ailments of the obese. The same attention that has been given to the prevention of drug addiction, smoking and STDs should also be given to obesity.

If this ban is only applicable to obese people then it amounts to discrimination. If this ban is just the start of an effort to reduce health care expenses, then its ramifications could prove far more grievous than just the denial of a hip replacement.

I agree. And what they should be doing is not simply making a blanket statement that "these people won't get joint replacement surgery" but doing more to help assist these people in getting their weight under control (especially if they have underlying causes to their weight problem) and helping them to understand that it is in their best interests to lose weight prior to having the surgery. It bothers me that the healthcare industry is getting increasingly more accustomed to simply dismissing high risk patients instead of working with them to help them combat the problems that are assisting in their decline.

My dad had have to have a hip replacement. He was in so much pain that he paid for it rather than endure the long wait on the NHS. It took virtually all his meagre savings. To tell someone that they have to spend their life in pain because of their weight is outrageous.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

lol, link didn't link!

The trust admitted that its main motive was financial, because it had overspent its budget by £47.9 million, but cutting back on medical services is only marginally economic. To save substantial sums, such services have to be cut disproportionately. What the trust really meant was that it needed to save £47.9 million without cutting back on administrative costs. Indeed, it stands to reason that the more financial chaos there is, the more management is needed to sort it out. From an interesting article at The Times

Oh well, good thing I don't live in UK. Thank god, in America that fat people are protected. In Greece, they just don't have enough fat people to even think about something like this. Even though I'm not fat, but considered "a big guy" in the states, in Greece, everyone says I'm obese, and adds an "ARA" to my name.

Mel...you're right...helping them to lose weight makes more sense then to deny them medical treatment. Healthcare professionals have spent tons of money researching the causes of obesity and then they refuse to treat the ailments of it.

Mike...If they had said "no" to surgery but "yes" to subsidizing an obese person's visits to a dietician or weight loss clinic, I would approve. My big problem, as I stated in my blog is that they only target overweight people...no one else who's lifestyle choices directly affect their health.

Scruff..it's funny that you say that Greeks call you obese because I thought (and still think) many Greeks look like Auschwitz survivors. I figured they were so poor they couldn't afford to eat. Bone racks with pallid complexions. It's no wonder since the women, especially, seem to live on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. I've never seen so many women with osteoporosis in my whole life. My mother-in-law who has it explained to me that women don't eat dairy products because they're fattening. (Imagine if the Greek healthcare system decided to ban treatment for osteoporosis sufferers.) If I see a man here who breaks the 6' mark, I stare. Coming from a country full of towering hockey and football jocks, I think a man with average height and weight is a midget. So, from what you tell me about yourself, you'd seem 'regular' weight to me than your 5'8", 155lb counterpart. LOL

Hey SeaWitch! Thanks for visiting my blog. I visited Greece once for a couple of months long long ago and I can imagine it has changed a lot since then. Or maybe not. :-)

As for the obese being denied proper medical treatment, I agree with you that this kind of ruling is unfair and has no future.

Seawitch,

Thanks for the reassuring comments. Yep, you are right. At 5'10", 220 lbs, I'm definitely "obese" by their standards and just a "big guy" in the states. But, I'm not too self conscious about it. I figure if people can over my bushy blond hair, and unshaven beard, then they should be able to get over my "obesity" here. (just kidding)

Since when has it become ok to torment "fluffy" people????? I agree with all your comments Seawitch (see? I even said that publicly!!)

Next thing you know, people who were dumb enough to get injured in a car crash (since the word "accident" implies it wasn't preventable)...won't get medical treatment either.

Damn us all for being flawed humans.

HRH Queen Bee in Canada

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