Getting fit for surgery

Patients in Bath and North East Somerset are now being supported to ‘get fit before surgery’ if they smoke or are obese (have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above) and need a non-urgent operation.

Following widespread public consultation at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG) is now rolling out the new scheme, which aims to reduce the risk of complications during and after routine surgery.

Patients who smoke or are overweight will be supported to stop smoking and/or lose weight for three months, before being referred to hospital for their operation, if they still need it.

The type of support provided includes access to weight loss groups, such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers, or a referral to an exercise programme. Smokers receive support from stop smoking advisors and have access to nicotine replacement products.

Patients who have a healthier lifestyle have a reduced risk of complications during and after their operation, recover more quickly and experience long-term health benefits.

Research shows:

  • Smokers are 38 per centmore likely to die following surgery than people who have never smoked.
  • Patients who are classed as having an obese body weight, are at increased risk of infection after surgeryor of developing breathing problems during operations.

The CCG has a responsibility to support everyone to make healthier lifestyle choices and to prevent people from becoming ill. One of the ways to improve health and wellbeing across B&NES is to increase the number of people accessing services to help them stop smoking, lose weight and stay healthy.

Being referred for surgery can often be a time when people become very aware of their health and how their lifestyles can affect it. By introducing this scheme, we are supporting patients in making changes that will bring long-term benefits, often far greater than those of the operation itself. For example, stopping smoking and losing weight reduce the risk of someone developing heart disease and cancer.

Losing weight can also have the added benefit of reducing the need for surgery, if a person sees such an improvement that they decide they no longer need an operation.

Stopping smoking has many health benefits both during and after surgery, including:

  • less chance of having lung and heart complications
  • less risk of getting an infection after surgery
  • shorter time spent in hospital for your operation
  • less chance of having complications like breathing problems while you are under general anaesthetic
  • wounds healing more quickly
  • fewer breathing problems
  • less chance of having to go back to hospital after your surgery

Patients who are obese are more likely to experience potentially serious complications during and after their operation, including:

  • increased risk of infection
  • poor wound healing
  • bleeding and blood clots in lungs and limbs
  • breathing problems
  • loosening, failure or dislocation of a new joint

You can find out more information about the scheme and our consultation results here.