Disturbing story (already mentioned in comments):
Scotland’s second largest health board has defended the practice of asking smokers to quit before they access certain treatments.
Vascular surgeons at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI) said they would not take GP referrals for non-emergency patients unless they had stopped smoking.
Doctors and NHS Lothian argued that medical intervention could be avoided if people simply stopped smoking and changed their lifestyles, adding that smokers could face extra complications in surgery.
…Consultant vascular surgeon Zahid Raza said that patients who did not present as a medical emergency would not be seen unless they made lifestyle changes.
It’s caused something of a storm:
However, Dr Jean Turner, from the Scotland Patients Association, said she was “extremely disappointed” by the stance.
“I’m really quite shocked. You should not refuse to see anybody and certainly not penalise patients who are smoking,” she said.
“It is very God-like and highly unfair to refuse to see people referred from general practitioners and if I was a GP I would be very angry. It’s not for a doctor to make a judgment. Doctors are there to see if they can help and relieve symptoms.”
Patients have been complaining to their MPs, according to the Express:
… patients have reacted with fury at the decision by the Vascular Surgery Service at the ERI to start refusing GP referrals from people who fail to ditch their smoking habit.
Some have even written to local MPs demanding they be seen by surgeons after being told of the decision.
Dave Atherton is on the story on Breitbart,
But has the story been misreported? In the comments under the article in the Scotsman, the surgeon at the centre of the furore, Zahid Zraza, writes:
Unfortunately I am the doctor that this story relates to. Please let me explain the situation and the misrepresentation that has occurred.
The vast majority of our patients are smokers or ex smokers. The vast majority I operate on are in this group. To be seen by a Vascular Surgeon, there is around a 2 month wait for a routine appointment. Around 90% of patients with poor circulation in their legs (claudication) do not need an operation. They will improve by changing their lifestyle. These patients can be managed by the GP’s in primary care very effectively. If the small proportion of patients do not improve then, of course the Vascular Unit shall see them, irrespective if they smoke or have stopped. This policy is evidence based as smokers who have bad leg circulation who undergo a bypass in their legs will run into huge problems with their bypass grafts blocking off. Some of these patients go on to lose their legs as a repeat operation is technically more challenging and less successful.
The policy (which is not new) does not refuse to see patients who smoke. It is a way to allow GP’s to send patients to a Vascular Surgeon who fail to improve and their walking becomes steadily worse. This effectively means that we see patients much sooner and can treat them more effectively.
I hope the readers appreciate that I am not refusing treatment to my patients but trying to improve the referral pathway to see patients sooner and for those who would not benefit treatment; to be managed in primary care.
I would like to reiterate that most of the patients whom I operate on with arterial disease in their legs are smokers and the method used to mis quote me by the media agency is very unfortunate and does not reflect the position of the Edinburgh Vascular Unit and the surgeons. I hope this clarifies the position. (emphases added)
That seems fairly clear, because if his patients are smokers, then clearly they can’t have given up smoking. But then somebody must have demanded that patients give up smoking, if they’re now writing to their MPs to complain. Who was it if it wasn’t Zahid Zraza?
And when are they going to be fired?