Rachael Maskell MP for York Central has called on the Secretary of State to initiate a complete review of the surgery ban imposed by the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group.
Leading a debate in Parliament yesterday evening (28/02/17) , Ms Maskell highlighted how due to the restrictions brought in by the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group from 1 February 2017, we are now in a situation where the clinical judgements of clinicians are being undermined by diktats from bureaucrats and without the agreement, or even consent, of the patient, or clinical evidence.
The MP has been investigating incidences of rationing in the NHS as a result of the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group refusing surgery for patients who smoke or who have a Body Mass Index higher than 30.
GPs are now unable to refer patients for a surgical assessment if they smoke or are overweight, and instead people are sent a standard letter telling them to stop smoking or to lose weight. This is despite smoking cessation and weight loss programmes being cut in York.
Having worked as a senior physiotherapist in the NHS, Ms Maskell used the debate to highlight how GPs, the Royal College of Surgeons and other Royal surgical colleges and clinicians believe that the programme of rationing is detrimental to the health of people in the city.
As a result of the debate, Ms Maskell will now be meeting with the Minister at the earliest opportunity to discuss the situation in York further.
Rachael Maskell MP for York Central says:
"I called for this debate as I have already heard of a number of cases where cuts to services are compromising people’s health. Any policy that denies patient’s surgery without clinical judgement is directly discriminatory, clinically contraindicated and financially perverse.
“All clinicians understand the risk factors created by smoking and being overweight, and not least when it comes to surgery, and that is why it is so important that money is invested into public health services. In York, the Council have cut smoking cessation services funding altogether and have also cut the ‘health walks’ programme – which was a service to help people exercise more, and therefore lose weight. These cuts to weight loss and smoking cessation services come at the same time as the restrictions imposed by the CCG, which are denying patients surgery because they smoke or are overweight. Public health programmes need restoring so that patients can properly engage to help optimise their health. The passive approach of the CCG is setting patients up for failure.
“As a result of the debate, I will now be meeting with the Minister as the earliest opportunity. At the meeting I will be calling on the Government to step in now and agree that this policy needs to be reviewed and removed as a matter of urgency.”
The Royal College of Surgeons say:
“We are extremely concerned by the Vale of York CCG’s decision to delay many forms of elective surgery for smokers and obese patients. This has the potential to affect a large number of patients, as around a quarter of the English population has a BMI of 30 or higher. Surgical treatment should be based solely on clinical guidance and conversations between patients and their clinicians. Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on joint surgery, for example, is clear that ‘patient-specific factors (including age, sex, smoking, obesity, and co-morbidities) should not be barriers to referral for joint surgery.’ 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.”
If anyone has also experienced delays in surgery from 1 February because of the rationing, then Rachael Maskell would want to hear from you. Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org