BMI restrictions on surgery worsen health inequalities

Researchers have found a drop in the number of knee replacement operations carried out in regions of England with restrictions on surgery for overweight patients, with people in more deprived areas worst affected.

The research team from the University of Bristol found that patients needing surgery but who are unable to lose weight are being denied surgery that could ease pain and increase mobility. By looking at patients’ postcodes, the researchers could see that people from more deprived areas appeared more likely to be denied surgery.

Some CCGs in England restrict access to hip and knee surgery based on BMI. This is contrary to NICE guidelines.

The Guardian newspaper published an article on this issue, including a quote from Professor John Skinner, ARMA trustee and president of the British Orthopaedic Association.