This isn’t an emailed submission, but it’s definitely relevant to the scope of this site. An article, “Where Fat Rules Out Surgery,” reported today in the Monterey Herald reveals a growing trend in the numbers of patients being denied nonessential surgeries by British health authorities because of their weight.
For two years, Frances Kinley-Manton says she lived with arthritis pain in her hips, a condition that kept her in a wheelchair. She wanted hip replacement surgery. But doctors at Britain’s National Health Service said she was too fat for the operation…
“They wouldn’t even put me on a waiting list,” Kinley-Manton recalled.
Her doctor told the 210-pound woman to lose about 30 pounds before he would consider her for surgery.
Unable to drop the weight through dieting, the 68-year-old Scotland resident took out a mortgage on her house to pay for a private operation on the Mediterranean island of Malta. She had her first hip operation in July. Now she’s awaiting surgery on the other hip.
“I had no alternative,” she said. “NHS said they wouldn’t operate on me because I’m overweight, but I think they were just trying to keep their costs down…”
Kinley-Manton’s doctors in Malta said they were puzzled that her weight posed a problem. Hip replacements cost about $14,600 at the hospital where she had her surgery.
“It’s evident that there are a number of (hospitals) with a large deficit who are making decisions that have no medical bearing,” said Michael Summers, a spokesman for Britain’s Patients’ Association, an advocacy group. “This is a very disturbing trend.”
Kinley-Manton considers her own treatment discriminatory.
“It goes against my principles to have come to Malta, but I didn’t think the surgery was ever going to happen in the U.K.,” she said.
The Patients’ Association said it got dozens of complaints every month about the National Health Service, including the refusal of surgeries to overweight patients. Obesity advocates said the issue has been raised at national medical meetings.