Plans to deny surgery to obese and smokers 'put on hold'

. Credit: PA

Health bosses who proposed denying routine surgery to obese people and smokers has put the plans on hold following criticism.

The Vale of York clinical commissioning group (CCG) had suggested that patients who exceeded a body mass index of 30 would be denied any surgery which was not life-saving for up to a year in a bid to cut costs, unless they lost weight.

Meanwhile, smokers would have to prove they had quit before being allowed under the knife.

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, had said he expected other CCGs would follow suit to save money.

But the Royal College of Surgeons described the move as the "most severe" in the modern NHS - and the North Yorkshire health authority revealed that NHS England had asked it to review the policy before putting it into practice.

Smokers would have had to prove they had quit Credit: PA

A spokesman for NHS England said denying operations to particular groups of patients was "inconsistent" with the NHS constitution.

"Major surgery poses much higher risks for severely overweight patients who smoke. So local GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups are entirely right to ensure these patients first get support to lose weight and try and stop smoking before their hip or knee operation," he said.

"Reducing obesity and cutting smoking not only benefits patients, but saves the NHS and taxpayers millions of pounds.

"This does not and cannot mean blanket bans on particular patients such as smokers getting operations, which would be inconsistent with the NHS constitution.

"Vale of York CCG is currently under 'special measures' legal direction, and NHS England is today asking it to review its proposed approach before it takes effect to ensure it is proportionate, clinically reasonable, and consistent with applicable national clinical guidelines."