Following reports in the media claiming that some doctors believe that older people, smokers, people who are obese and heavy drinkers should not receive NHS treatment, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee, Dr Tony Calland, said today:
"Someone's age or lifestyle choices should not impact on their eligibility for NHS treatment and the BMA would be against any such moves. The BMA is against blanket bans based on age or other arbitrary factors. It is outrageous to suggest that just because someone is old that they would not have a right to be considered for treatment.
"The BMA believes decisions about NHS treatment should be based on clinical issues. For example, if someone's weight makes an operation too risky then this would need to be discussed with the patient and perhaps they would be advised to lose weight before surgery could safely go ahead. Equally, if a patient's age made them too frail to survive surgery, a decision may need to be taken to consider alternative treatment. These are clinical decisions based on individual circumstances."