York MP calls for minister to intervene over NHS '˜rationing'

A HEALTH minister has insisted NHS services are not being 'rationed' despite restrictions on surgery for overweight patients and smokers in North Yorkshire.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell

York Central MP Rachael Maskell called on the Government to “step in” over the move to restrict surgery to overweight patients and smokers as the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group tries to balance its books.

Ms Maskell used a Commons debate to argue treatment decisions were being taken out of the hands of doctors.

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She said patients were also being told to lead healthier lifestyles at a time York Council was cutting spending on public health services.

She said: “All clinicians understand the risk factors created by smoking and being overweight, and not least when it comes to surgery, and that is why it is so important that money is invested into public health services.

“In York, the council have cut smoking cessation services funding altogether and have also cut the ‘health walks’ programme – which was a service to help people exercise more, and therefore lose weight.

“These cuts to weight loss and smoking cessation services come at the same time as the restrictions imposed by the CCG, which are denying patients surgery because they smoke or are overweight.

“Public health programmes need restoring so that patients can properly engage to help optimise their health.”

Health Minister Philip Dunne said he did not “recognise” services were being rationed and it was down to doctors to take decisions about treatments.

He said in terms of referring patients for treatment within the Government’s 18-week target “the Vale of York has performed better than many other areas in the country”.