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FoIA reveals smokers and fat patients are denied NHS operations

The NHS has been accused of trying to save money by denying treatment for smokers and obese patients, the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph report.

Freedom of Information requests obtained from 91 Primary Care Trusts in England by Pulse, a magazine for GPs, showed that 25 had brought in new restrictions on treating obese patients or smokers since last April.

Statistics show that people are being denied IVF treatment, breast reductions and fat–reduction operations based on their weight and whether they smoke.

Dr Clare Gerada, the head of the Royal College of GPs, said some of the restrictions, particularly for IVF, were “dreadful”. She added: “It’s becoming the deserving and the undeserving. I think it’s discriminatory and I find it astonishing.

“The Government should determine what should be applied universally.”

In case of one trust, NHS Bedfordshire, anyone with a body mass index above 35 deemed to be severely obese is barred from having hip or knee surgery. This is equivalent to a 5ft 5in woman weighing 15 stone or a 6ft man weighing 18 and a half stone.

Steve Nowottny, the deputy editor of Pulse, said: “In some cases there may be genuine clinical justification for rationing treatment on these grounds. But there is a growing suspicion that some PCTs are now blocking access to surgery for smokers and the obese simply to help achieve ever greater efficiency savings.”

However, managers at Health Service trusts insisted that such restrictions are in people’s ‘best interests’.

Scottish councils are “profiteering” at the expense of retailers, The Scottish Grocers’ Federation say

Scotland’s convenience stores are each down an average of £4000 because of liquor licensing regulations introduced two years ago, fueling allegations local authorities are “profiteering” at the expense of retailers,  the Herald Scotland reports.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information legislation,  11 out of 27 Scottish councils have made money running into hundreds of thousands of pounds from the new licensing regime since 2009, despite the statutory requirement for it to be cost-neutral.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF),  said the figures showed retailers paid “hand over fist for a system so lacking in transparency, accountability, consistency and proportionality”.

“These figures show licence holders are paying over the odds for a system which is cumbersome and which is lining the pockets of some local authorities” SGF chief executive John Drummond said.

SNP ‘failed to comply’ with the law, the Information Commissioner said

The Scottish information commissioner has ruled that the Government of Scotland “failed to comply” with the law after ministers blocked a request for the release of documents showing communications between the SNP administration and the party’s biggest donor, Stagecoach owner Sir Brian Souter, the Scotsman reports.

The commissioner heavily criticised ministers for not releasing the correspondence involving Sir Brian, who was knighted last year, just months after he donated GBP500,000 to the SNP’s election war chest during last year’s election.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have received the Scottish Information Commissioner’s decision and are considering its terms.”

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