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GPs to assign patients to weight-loss programme before surgery

More GPs will be asked to help patients quit smoking or lose weight before surgery, as another CCG joins the ranks of commissioners restricting services.

Going forward, smokers and patients with a BMI of 30 or over ‘will be offered a referral to either a weight management programme or stop smoking services for a six-month period’ before being considered for surgery, NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG said.

The CCG, which has a projected deficit of £8.4m for the current financial year, said the new measure would ’help protect the future finances of the CCG and the wider local health economy.’

CCG chief officer Amanda Bloor said: ‘The CCG [is] not saying patients can’t have the surgery.

‘By introducing a six-month health optimisation period, we are encouraging and supporting patients to undertake a lifestyle change which will provide them with the best possible clinical outcome.’

The policy, which excludes surgery related to cancer or suspected cancer, urgent procedures and patients with severe mental illness, is one of a range of initiatives by the CCG to try and close its deficit. It will also conduct a review of follow-up appointments to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and work with GPs and pharmacies to reduce prescribing costs and promote self-care.

The news comes as a report from the Royal College of Surgeons, published in April, warned that one in three CCGs are now denying or delaying routine surgery to patients, in contravention of national guidance, with smokers and obese patients seen as ‘soft targets’ for service rationing.


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