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Home Industry News Support shown for NHS rationing

Support shown for NHS rationing

6th February 2006

The NHS cannot realistically treat everyone, doctors concede.

A poll by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that four in ten doctors would support a refusal to treat obese patients if resources were limited.

The survey, published in BMA News, also revealed that 39 per cent of doctors are in favour of withholding some treatments from smokers and drinkers.

However, the majority of those supporting rationing argued that it should be motivated by clinical reasons not cost, with many of those surveyed alarmed by the decision taken by East Suffolk primary care trust last November to withhold hip and knee replacement surgery from obese patients on the grounds of cost.

Over nine in ten of those surveyed said that it is time for the NHS to hold an open debate on rationing, mainly to clear up any confusion.

A BMA spokeswoman said that a blanket ban on treating certain groups of people would be “wholly unacceptable”, the BBC reports, recommending instead that doctors base treatment decision on the patient’s clinical need and the likely benefits of the treatment.

A Department of Health spokesman echoed this stance, telling the BBC that doctors should act based on the patient’s clinical need, not lifestyle choice.

Last year, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled that doctors could take people’s lifestyle into account when deciding if a treatment would be effective, however, it warned against discriminating against patients whose condition could be self-inflicted.

track© Adfero Ltd

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