Tom Condliff, 62, says he needs the stomach operation to save his life but the North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust has ruled that his body mass index is not high enough to entitle him to funding for a gastric bypass operation..
An initial legal challenge failed but Condliff’s lawyer will ask the Appeal Court’s civil division to overturn the High Court ruling and uphold his application for a judicial review.
The 62-year-old a grandfather from Talke, Staffordshire says the “irrational” decision violated his rights under the Human Rights Act and also breached the trust’s own funding policy.
Condliff became obese because of drugs taken to treat long-term diabetes. He says he would rather avoid the “very unpleasant” surgery, involving removing part of his intestine and stomach, but without it his life is in danger.
He suffers from 13 illnesses, takes 28 different drugs and uses breathing masks and inhalers. His weight has spiralled out of control in recent years as a result of medication.
Specialists have told him a gastric bypass operation would not only help him shed pounds but could also control his diabetes, leading to other ailments fading away.
The High Court was told that, at 6ft 2ins, his 22 stone (139 kg) weight gives him a BMI (body mass index) of 43kg/m2 (6.7 stone/m2), not high enough to qualify for surgery where he lives, although it would in the area of a neighbouring NHS trust.
Condliff has tried non-surgical interventions including dietary and lifestyle changes and also drug treatments, but all were unsuccessful, the court heard
The High Court’s Judge Waksman said everyone agreed gastric bypass surgery was “clinically appropriate” for him but North Staffordshire PCT provided routine surgery only for those with a BMI of more than 50.
Supported by his GP and specialists treating him, Condliff applied for funding in February last year on the grounds that his case was “exceptional”.
The request was rejected. A second request was made, accompanied by evidence that Condliff’s physical and mental condition was deteriorating and he now had to use a wheelchair.
He was housebound, could no longer attend church and he was becoming depressed and withdrawn.
Judge Waksman said Condliff’s doctor pointed out that if he were in the Stoke PCT area, he would have qualified for surgery as he had a BMI of more than 35, Stoke’s lower threshold for surgery.
But the second request for treatment was also rejected and Condliff was told that “non-clinical social factors” could not be taken into account.
Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Lady Justice Hallett and Lord Justice Toulson will hear Condliff’s appeal.
Britain has the highest obesity level in Europe, with 24.5 percent of adults classed as obese, according to a study released in December by the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The EU average is 14 percent.
The number of dangerously overweight people around the world has nearly doubled since 1980, the World Health Organisation said in a study released in February.
More than half a billion men and women — nearly one in nine of all adults — are clinically obese, according to research by a team from Imperial College London, Harvard and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In 2008, the latest year for which statistics were available, nearly one woman in seven and one man in 10 were obese, it found.
Being too fat causes three million premature deaths each year from heart disease, diabetes, cancers and other disorders, according to the WHO.
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Category: Health/ Food/ Diet
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