Discuss the policy of the NHS refusing to treat obese patients.

Essay by twomblyheroHigh School, 12th gradeA+, June 2014

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"Some Hospital Trusts refuse surgery to patients with certain conditions like obesity putting the onus on the patient to change their behaviour first. Given that the National Health Service has finite resources, evaluate the extent to which this can be regarded as an acceptable policy "

The UK is facing an obesity 'epidemic', part of an increasing worldwide problem. One in four adults and almost one in five children are obese and if current trends continue this is set to increase to almost half of all adults. The estimated cost to the NHS is £5bn a year with the cost to double by 2050 3.

In response, some NHS Primary Care Trusts have begun to restrict, or consider restricting, access to treatment for obese patients. The Royal College of Physicians admits that health care professionals faced with obese patients find that there is "often no multidisciplinary service" to tackle the cause of the problem 1. Is it justified to refuse treatment, specifically surgery, if it has no other nationwide options in place; would prevention be more effective; or does the NHS have the right to refuse help to patients who have not taken adequate care of their own health?

Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index of between 30 and 40 and to be considered morbidly obese a BMI of over 40.

5. Obesity is not conducive to a healthy mind and body and the implications are far ranging; the complications of obesity can lead to many cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a reduction in life expectancy. 6 Some studies have suggested obesity and common mental health disorders are interlinked proposing those who are obese may be more likely to suffer from depression7. The annual cost of obesity to the UK economy as a whole,