The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) of the UK has revealed that medical treatment may be denied to drinkers and smokers, in addition to seriously overweight people. The lifestyle of the patient will play a role in the doctors deciding whether the treatment will be cost effective, or even effective upon the patient.
There will however be no discrimination if the disease had been brought about by the patient himself. The age of the patient will also be taken into account by the doctors. The guidance of NICE will be quoted by three trusts in East Suffolk which refused to give hip or knee transplants to obese people.
Heart bypass surgeries to smokers and liver transplants to drinkers will be less effective because of the habits of the patients. Each case will be judged individually as to whether the treatment will yield the desired effects, or if the patient in question needs the treatment. The Social Value Judgments: Principles for the Development of NICE Guidance report considered whether the lifestyle choices, age or social background of the patients should be taken into account by NHS while deciding upon the treatment.
A doctor may call upon a smoking patient to give up the habit as smoking may raise the risks of the operation.
A Liberal Democrat health spokesman has voiced the opinion that treatment should not be denied to people on the grounds of their lifestyle, nor should the cost of the treatment be taken into account. Some people consider the new guidelines a way of rationing the treatment of the NHS in the UK. The NICE guidance was finalized by the NICE board, but it is still in its draft form.