I am reading the news stories about the NHS cutting down on what they call ‘pointless and risky operations‘ and they have released a list of operations that the NHS will no longer be providing and will save hundreds and millions of pounds.
I understand that the NHS needs to save money and so they cannot treat everything, but they should be honest with the public rather than pretending that they are stopping these operations because they are unnecessary.
The reason they are stopping them is because they cannot afford to do them.
If they were unnecessary, no doctor would ever do them in the first place.
We had this some time ago when they called it procedures with limited clinical value, and breast reduction is often something that comes up in the list and is here in this latest list, along with carpal tunnel decompression, people with Dupuytren’s contracture, treatment for haemorrhoids, and for heavy menstrual bleeding, amongst others.
I do not think it is fair to say that these operations are pointless and unnecessary, because they all carry with them potential for complications, and so patients need to be fully informed of the risks and benefits deciding on having surgery.
I do not think you will find a surgeon who would take a patient to theatre and perform a procedure that was pointless and unnecessary.
It is true that they are not essential and will have no effect on lifespan, and I think it is right that the NHS focuses on the most pressing and clinically significant problems, but I do not think it is right that they are labelling these procedures as unnecessary.
When I used to work in the NHS it was always difficult dealing with referrals for patients with breast reduction, because we had to go through several hoops and criteria and have their case passed through panels, and more often than not it was rejected.
We would often know early on that it was going to get rejected, but nevertheless there were long letters of appeal where patients would hope to be approved, only to prolong the rejection.
I think there is an argument to say that the NHS simply treats children, cancer, and trauma and just accept that we have to pay for everything else, because it cannot afford to do everything.
It is not that the other things cannot significantly improve quality of life, but we have to realise how expensive surgery and health care is, and looking at this list of 17 operations https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44665560 , I do not think anyone would argue that the NHS would be better spending its money elsewhere, but I would prefer if they just said that they cannot afford to perform these procedures, rather than suggesting that these procedures, which they say themselves are carried out 350,000 times a year, are completely pointless.
If that were the case, these doctors would be negligently exposing their patients to risk with no hope of any benefit.
The NHS is in crisis with a terrible funding shortfall and that is the only reason they are cutting these operations. I just wish they would be honest and say it like it is.
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