Smokers and obese patients to be helped to get fit for surgery

Our Board has agreed to proceed with new plans to tackle obesity and smoking.  From next month, patients in B&NES with a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more or who smoke will be supported to lose weight and/or quit smoking prior to non-urgent, routine surgery.  Studies show that patients who succeed in adopting a healthier lifestyle have a reduced risk of complications during and after their operation, recover more quickly and experience long-term health benefits.

The decision follows a 10-week public consultation that showed that patients and the public are supportive of the CCG’s plans. The majority (82 per cent) of survey respondents agreed that the NHS should encourage people to stop smoking for a period of time before non-urgent surgery. Most people also (79 per cent) agreed that the NHS should encourage people with a BMI of 30 or more to lose weight.

Consultation feedback on how long patients should try to lose weight or stop smoking before non-urgent surgery was more mixed.  On this topic, almost half of respondents felt that a period of up to three months was appropriate for people to be supported to try to stop smoking and the same number felt that a period of up to six months was appropriate for people to be supported to try to lose weight.

The CCG Board carefully reviewed and discussed the consultation feedback and decided to set the time period at three months for both stopping smoking and losing weight prior to referral for surgery.  They decided that three months allows sufficient time for patients to aim to lose at least five percent of their body weight and to be able to start off on a journey towards healthier habits.

Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director at the CCG and local GP said; “Thank you to everyone who took part in our consultation and shared their views on our plans.

“We want to help patients to get in the best shape possible for their operation. If you are overweight or smoke, you are more at risk of complications during surgery and a slower recovery post-op. There are also long-term health benefits for those who don’t smoke and are a healthy weight.”

The CCG has been working in partnership with local GPs, the Public Health team at B&NES Council, wellbeing experts at Virgin Care (lifestyle service) and consultant anaesthetists and surgeons at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust to develop this scheme.

Dr Bruce Laurence, Director of Public Health at B&NES Council said;There are plenty of resources and advice available to help people work towards their goals and this includes referral to our local smoking cessation and weight management services. In the consultation, most people said they are happy with these services but there were some suggestions on how they can be improved and these will be used to inform a review of our lifestyle services that is planned for later this year.”

The full consultation report is available here.