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Comment on Vale of York CCG plans to delay surgery

02 Sep 2016

Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has introduced commissioning policies which will significantly delay access to all non-cancer planned surgery for smokers and patients with a BMI of 30 or more.  The CCG has indicated that these policies are being introduced to address the significant financial challenge it is facing.

Responding to the introduction of these policies, Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said:

“The policies being introduced by Vale of York CCG are some of the most severe the modern NHS has ever seen. Smokers and overweight patients should unquestionably be helped to stop smoking or lose weight prior to surgery for their overall health. We would support any attempts by Vale of York to expand its weight loss and smoking cessation programmes, but introducing blanket bans that delay patients’ access to what can be life-changing surgery for up to a year is wrong.

“In some cases patients needing surgery may find it difficult to lose weight, for example if they have mobility problems. Their condition may also deteriorate if made to wait unnecessarily for surgery.

“As the true scale of financial pressure on NHS trusts has become clear over the summer, we are fast finding ourselves in a situation where CCGs are introducing Draconian commissioning policies, often flouting NICE or other clinical guidance, in order to balance the books. An honest national debate on exactly what the NHS can afford, and what we are willing to pay, is urgently needed.”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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