Vascular specialists turn smokers away

| August 12, 2014

Consultants at a hospital in Scotland have said they will refuse to accept general practitioner (GP) referrals of patients who smoke, according to a story by Christina Kenny for Pulse.

The hospital, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI), which is part of NHS (National Health Service) Lothian, says that medical intervention for vascular disease could be avoided altogether if patients stopped smoking and adopted healthier lifestyles.

Zahid Reza, a consultant vascular surgeon at ERI, was quoted as saying that his clinic was refusing to accept GP referrals of patients who continued to smoke, unless it was an emergency.

“Evidence shows that they would not do well with the treatment,” he was quoted as telling the Scotsman newspaper. “In around 80 percent of cases, a smoker’s condition will improve just simply by stopping smoking and making other lifestyle changes.

“Some patients have written to their MP demanding to see a consultant. I have written back to the MP to explain our position.”

NHS Lothian has apparently denied the existence of a ‘blanket ban’ on refusing referrals, saying that each patient was treated on a case-by-case basis.

Nevertheless, patient groups are said to have attacked the decision, describing it as ‘shocking’.

Dr Jean Turner, a former GP who heads the Scotland Patients Association, said that she was “extremely disappointed”.

“You should not refuse to see anybody and certainly not penalize patients who are smoking,” she said. “It is very God-like and highly unfair to refuse to see people referred from general practitioners.

“If I was a GP I would be very angry. It’s not for a doctor to make a judgment. Doctors are there to see if they can help and relieve symptoms.”

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