• Question: Do you think people that have poor lifestyle should be exempt from treatment such as operations if they are overweight/ a smoker?

    Asked by Karolina to Simon, Katharine, Jonathan, Emma, Chris on 16 Jun 2017.
    • Photo: Jonathan Harte

      Jonathan Harte answered on 16 Jun 2017:

      Good question – Intuitively it makes sense to think that. self imposed lifestyles can impact badly on people’s health so why should they get the benefit of the NHS for free to treat something they’ve brought upon themselves.

      I disagree and still feel all people have a right to health care free at the point of access regardless.

      They will say that they pay plenty in taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and fast food etc. which helps fund the NHS.

      I think its too complex to call – so feel we offer everyone equal access.

    • Photo: Emma Rowe

      Emma Rowe answered on 16 Jun 2017:

      I think that’s really hard to answer as it’s a complex situation. You can’t deny someone something on the basis that they’re obese, but you can explain to them that a new knee won’t be sustainable until they tackle their obesity.

      As a nurse, it’s very frustrating to have people expect quick fixes like new joints or gastric bands when I know based on evidence, they won’t work or will be limited in their success. But as humans, we often want the easy way out or the quick fix so I can understand why they want these things.

      For certain NHS procedures, a panel of experts decide if a procedure is worthwhile (in benefit to the patient as well as cost to the NHS amongst other things) and then they make the decision.

      On a personal level, I struggle with my weight as I don’t exercise enough and eat too much (you’ve got to be honest with yourself!), so I am trying to lead by example and get myself to a reasonable weight and fitness level to help encourage my patients to make those changes themselves.

    • Photo: Katharine Bradbury

      Katharine Bradbury answered on 16 Jun 2017:

      Yes and no!
      I don’t like the idea of anyone being denied treatment they need and as healthcare professionals we really want to help our patients. However some treatments are less effective if patients are overweight or continue to smoke or drink alcohol to excess. There is also more risks associated with surgery in patients who are obese, smoke or drink heavily. We should help and support people to make positive changes but only restrict access to treatments if the risks outway the benefits.

    • Photo: Christopher Symonds

      Christopher Symonds answered on 19 Jun 2017:

      I do not want to see people refused treatment due to their chosen lifestyles, however if being overweight for example would put the patient in extra danger or reduce the chances of success careful consideration should be made as to the value of what could be a very costly procedure.