We Would Like to Operate, but You’re Too Fat!


An interesting development in policy as the UK National Health Service (NHS) begins to deny hip and knee replacements to people classed as obese (with a body mass index of 30 or more) as reported in the Times this week. The rationale being that lighter patients have better recovery and less hip/knee failures following surgery.

This development reminds me of the controversy over the George Best liver transplant operation in 2002. There was a huge media debate about whether Best was an appropriate recipient, given that he was a long term alcoholic. I was listening to Professor Williams, the surgeon who conducted the transplant who said that at the time, Best met all the recipient criteria, including being off booze for six months. As most people now know, Best was drinking again soon after the operation.

Receiving treatment based on how well (or not) you recover post operation, is a new road for the UK. Denying operations to people that are obese, but then providing no support to help them loose weight is completely dis-jointed (no pun intended).

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