In a decision that has outraged scores of British citizens as well as the nation’s top organization of surgeons, the country’s National Health Service announced it will indefinitely ban obese patients or smokers from having surgery until they give up the habit and/or lose weight.
The decision, announced by NHS bureaucrats, was immediately pounced upon by the Royal College of Surgeons, whose vice president called for an “urgent rethink” of the policy which he described as utterly “discriminatory” and was against fundamental treatment principles of the health agency.
The ruling is really an extension of an existing policy, whereby patients who were overweight or smokers were being told their surgeries and other services would be delayed, often for months, during which time they were expected to lose weight or give up smoking.
This kind of overt behavior modification might be allowable, even in a free market system, if it were being implemented by a privately owned health insurance company; patients would be free to either continue purchasing insurance through that company or find a different one that would accommodate their lifestyle choices.
However, when it’s being forced upon you by government — while you’re simultaneously forced to pay taxes to support said health system — that’s not conducive to a free society. That’s tyranny.
But then again, socialized healthcare is tyrannical by nature, because — like Obamacare — it forces citizens to make purchases and choices they otherwise would not make. And that’s what’s going on here: Taxpaying British citizens who happen to be overweight or who happen to smoke are being denied healthcare by bureaucrats who have decided they are no longer worthy of it.
Under the new rules, which were implemented by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), say that patients who are obese “will not get non-urged surgery until they reduce their weight” ever again unless there are exceptional existential circumstances. For smokers, surgeries will be delayed until they have stopped smoking for eight weeks; they will be breath-analyzed prior to being referred for surgery.
The CCGs are citing as their reason for implementing the new rules another issue that is inherent in government-run healthcare systems: A lack of adequate funding. Because the NHS is chronically underfunded by the government, it must make financial decisions based on the best use of available funds. (Related: NHS refusing services to smokers, obese patients until they go to health boot camp for six months.)
CCGs noted the rule changes seek to ‘encourage’ people “to take more responsibility for their own health and well-being, wherever possible, freeing up limited NHS resources for priority treatment.”
Ian Eardley, VP of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the NHS ought not to be barring any group of patients.
“Singling out patients in this way goes against the principles of the NHS,” he said, adding that it also “goes against clinical guidance and leaves patients waiting long periods of time in pain and discomfort.
“It can even lead to worse outcomes following surgery in some cases,” he added — which, of course, would only put more financial burden on the system.
“There is simply no justification for these policies, and we urge all clinical commissioning groups to urgently reverse these discriminatory measures,” Eardley noted further, saying the restrictive rules were just “the tip of the iceberg.”
Other medical professionals agreed that the rules were discriminatory and that obese patients’ outcomes were not worse than those who aren’t overweight.
Whether you agree or disagree with the policy, picking and choosing which groups of people are and are not ‘worthy’ of health care is an object lesson in tyranny. But that’s what happens with government-controlled entities that cannot sustain themselves with the available tax revenue.
A true free-market system devoid of government regulation and offering maximum patient choice and health freedom is the best answer if quality care at affordable prices are the objectives.
Read more of J.D. Heyes’ work at The National Sentinel, where he is the editor-in-chief.