Rationing Healthcare to Smokers and Obese

The number of individuals who smoke and are obese has skyrocketed over the years. This has caused speculation into health care and how it is funded. While UK residents are entitled to free NHS care, those who smoke and are obese need more rigorous and regular health care because of the implications associated with these controllable lifestyles. NHS specialists have considered these issues for years but the public constantly have something to contribute regarding how the health care system is run. I spoke to Morisi James, a full-time smoker stated that, “I seek health care for many reasons that are not caused by smoking but I feel as though some members of the community shun me as they think I do not deserve the same time and consideration as others.”


Routine surgeries have been restricted until morbidly obese people lose weight and until smokers quit as decided by Hertfordshire Valley Clinical Commissioning Group. However, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard the Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioner’s said, “As frontline GPs, we fully understand the struggles of the NHS and that funding decisions are becoming increasingly difficult, but patients go to see their GP expecting non-judgemental care and it’s important that their trust in us is not compromised.” She continued with, “To prevent patients from receiving NHS treatment that they would benefit from is not the solution and goes against the founding principles of our health service. Measures such as breathalysing smokers are extreme and not conducive to a good doctor-patient relationship.”


Clearly, denying certain individuals the care that everyone is entitled to is not conductive to a good doctor-patient relationship.


Ruth Robertson from The King’s Fund said, “After years of increasing deficits, that last year culminated in the NHS posting the largest overspend in its history, local health systems have been told to balance their books.” She said a number of factors can be changed in the health system to provide more funds, including, “ending prescriptions for over-the-counter medicines or gluten-free products, restricting access to IVF, or pausing non-urgent hospital referrals for a four-month period over the winter.” These factors affect those who are entitled to this health care but are not provided with it due to budget cuts, this clearly relates to the restrictions being posed upon smokers and obese.


Making changes as drastic as these affects the wellbeing of the community as a whole and the people’s trust in health care will plummet.


Shona Fegan


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