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York Labour demands ‘urgent review’ following NHS rationing

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A Labour motion to be debated by councillors this week will criticise the recent policy proposed by Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to restrict surgery to some who are obese or who smoke.

CCG bosses have taken the decision in a bid to tackle record levels of NHS debt in York.

Labour councillors will focus on the threat that this policy will widen the existing gap in health and wellbeing between the wealthy and the less wealthy parts of the city, with data showing that the percentage of people who are obese or who smoke is far higher in the less wealthy areas of the city. 

Labour argues that this means those from York’s less well off neighbourhoods are more likely to be denied the surgery that their doctor has said they need.

Labour’s Councillor Stuart Barnes said:

“As the party that founded the NHS, the Labour party will not stand by in silence and watch the introduction of a policy that will deepen health inequalities. 

“We should all do more to take personal responsibility for our health. The fact remains, however, that wealthier communities have lower rates of smoking and obesity. 

“Both local and national government should be doing all they can to tackle obesity and smoking. This should be done through support such as schemes to quit smoking or lose weight, not by cutting of millions from public health budgets and restricting surgery in a way that will hit poorer communities hardest.”

Although evidence shows that weight loss and smoking cessation programmes are successful and extremely cost effective, saving the NHS huge amounts of money in the long-run, this type of help has nevertheless been cut in York as a result of more than £1.2m having been slashed from York’s public health budget in just a few years. 

Labour’s motion calls upon the Tory and Lib Dem Executive running the Council to be presented with a review from public health experts. This will help Councillors to fully understand the impact that the NHS surgery restrictions will have on health inequalities in York, and to identify anything that the council can do to help reduce negative impacts for residents.

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