NHS patients face compulsory weight management courses ahead of surgery
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NHS patients face compulsory weight management courses ahead of surgery

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NHS patients in Devon are to be required to undergo weight management courses before they are eligible to receive routine surgical procedures.

The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) today (4 December) announced the new measures as it battles with an annual budget deficit of £14.5m.

Patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 35 (classed as morbidly obese) will be required to bring their BMI below this threshold or to lose five per cent of their weight before planned surgery, whichever is the lesser weight loss. The move will apply to routine surgical procedures, however, surgery that is urgent or immediately necessary, such as to treat cancer, will not be delayed.

Patients will also be required to stop smoking eight weeks prior to surgery and all patients will be will be offered weight management or quit smoking support.

Dr Tim Burke, chair of NEW Devon CCG said: “(These) measures encourage patients to take steps themselves to reduce their risks from surgery and to improve their outcomes, such as losing weight and stopping smoking.

“We don’t underestimate how difficult it will be for some people to lose weight or stop smoking and we will continue to support them. If they are able to do this it will also have long term health benefits for them.”

The move, which the CCG described as ‘urgent and necessary,’ throws up clear opportunities for leisure providers to assist with exercise programmes and advice as part of the weight management schemes. At the recent ukactive National Summit, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham pledged that physical activity would be available on prescription from every GP surgery if Labour wins the May 2015 General Election.

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NHS patients in Devon are to be required to undergo weight management courses before they are eligible to receive routine surgical procedures.
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