Patients 'Being Denied NHS Surgery'

Many NHS Bodies Are Ignoring Guidelines And Rationing Operations


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Many NHS bodies are rationing out care and refusing to treat people who need surgery, according to a new investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons.

The organisation believes that 73 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) do not follow rules set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in regards to surgical procedures for people with hip problems.

Further to this, the Royal College of Surgeons found that around 44 per cent of CCGs require patients to be in "various degrees of pain" before they will consider surgery, reports the Guardian.

Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "This report seems to show that local commissioners are imposing arbitrary rules governing access to some routine surgery.

"The motivation may not be financial but it is clear that some CCGs do not commission services using clinically accepted evidence-based guidance."

Is Access to Surgery a Postcode Lottery? - a research paper produced by the body - analysed information from a number of trusts and found that 58 per cent of CCGs have no policy on tonsillectomy, hip replacement, inguinal hernia repair and surgical treatment for glue ear.

This, according to the Royal College of Surgeons, means that patients are being put in danger of medical harm because relatively simple procedures are not going ahead.

Dr Steve Kell, co-chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioning body, said that local CCGs must ensure there is a good balance between only treating people who need surgery and giving people the help they need quickly.

These views were shared by Dr Amanda Doyle, Dr Kell's fellow co-chair, who said: "Ensuring patients get the best possible care against a backdrop of increasingly squeezed finances is one of the biggest issues CCGs face."

Labour used the report as an example of the coalition government's supposed mismanagement of the NHS, but Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers believe patient safety has improved in recent years despite cuts.

Expert Opinion
The results of this investigation are alarming, as a significant number of patients requiring treatment are not being given the care they need, at the time they need it.

"In many cases patients need to be in a significant amount of pain before they receive the surgery they need, which is putting some patients at risk of further harm and increased pain and suffering.

"We have seen the impact delays to necessary surgery can have on patients. It is vital the NHS puts patient safety and welfare before costs by implementing measures to ensure those requiring surgical procedures are operated on in a timely fashion, without having to go through months of pain."
Mandy Luckman, Partner