Two-thirds of health trusts in England are rationing treatments for “non-urgent” conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years. One in three primary-care trusts (PCTs) has expanded the list of procedures it will restrict funding to in the past 12 months.
Examples of the rationing now being used include:
- Hip and knee replacements only being allowed where patients are in severe pain. Overweight patients will be made to lose weight before being considered for an operation.
- Cataract operations being withheld from patients until their sight problems “substantially” affect their ability to work.
- Patients with varicose veins only being operated on if they are suffering “chronic continuous pain”, ulceration or bleeding.