Patients who are obese or smoke are being refused operations and sent on a six month boot camp.
They will be referred onto a six month ‘health optimisation programme’ and taught to improve their behaviours before having surgery.
The scheme will be rolled out next month in the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, a health trust in East Yorkshire serving 313,400 patients.
Managers are trying to save £11.5 million this year and claim patients will get more benefit from operations if they are in better health.
Patients awaiting surgery for cancer, the frail elderly or anyone with severe mental health problems will all be exempt from the policy.
But it will apply to all other non-urgent operations including hip and knee replacements, cataract removal or hernia procedures.
Patients who are obese or smoke will be referred onto a six month ‘health optimisation programme’ and taught to improve their behaviours before having surgery
The scheme will be rolled out next month in the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, a health trust in East Yorkshire serving 313,400 patients
The Royal College of Surgeons has previously described these schemes as ‘wrong’ and ‘shocking’, as all patients should have a right to treatment.
Other health trusts have considered imposing similar policies in recent months but it is not clear how many of these are in place.
According to documents uncovered by Health Service Journal, the scheme will be introduced in the Vale of York CCG from October.
Anyone needing surgery who has a Body Mass Index of 35 – which is very obese – or who smokes will be referred onto the programme for six months.
Obese patients will be sent to weight loss and exercise classes while smokers will be offered smoking cessation counselling and nicotine patches.
If after six months they have failed to lose any weight or stop smoking, they will be put forward for the operation regardless.
Managers say it is important patients are ‘encouraged’ to lead healthier lifestyles, ‘irrespective’ of whether or not they succeed.
Approximately one in four adults are obese and another one in five smoke.
A BMI of 35 is equivalent to an average 5 ft 6 (1.7m ) woman weighing 16 stone (100 kilos). It would include a typical 6 ft (1.8m) man weighing 18 and a half stone (117 kg) or over.
A document from the CCG states the scheme ‘will offer people who are obese or people who smoke, a referral to either a weight management programme or stop smoking services.
Managers are trying to save £11.5 million this year and claim patients will get more benefit from operations if they are in better health
‘This will be for a six month period of health optimisation, in advance of any planned non-urgent operation and will enable us to positively support and encourage people to improve their health and live a healthier lifestyle.
‘Patients who smoke or are obese have an increased clinical risk of suffering complications during or after their operation. As well as improving their overall health and wellbeing, patients who make changes such as stopping smoking or losing weight can improve the results of their surgery.
‘By providing this six month health optimisation period we are giving people the opportunity to make lifestyle changes which will provide them with the best possible clinical outcome now and improve their long term wellbeing.
Last November a neighbouring health trust, the Vale of York CCG, announced that smokers or obese patients would be denied surgery for up to a year.
They would be put forward for operations sooner unless they either quit smoking or lost 10 per cent of their body weight.
Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said at the time the scheme was the ‘wrong approach’ and ‘frankly shocking.’
‘If smokers and obese patients are hit this time, where will the rationing decisions fall next?’