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Surgeons ban non-emergency procedures for smokers

Vascular surgeons at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary have stopped taking GP referrals for non-emergency patients unless they have quit smoking. Dr Jean Turner, from the Scotland Patients Association, said she was “extremely disappointed” by the stance. Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: ‘NHS Lothian treats every patient on an individual case-by-case basis and there is no blanket policy in place that rules that smokers cannot undergo procedures or access certain areas of healthcare. In serious cases, medical intervention and procedures will always be provided swiftly, but we also recognise that some kinds of surgical operation are less likely to be successful in patients who smoke and that complications of surgery are more common in patients who continue to do so. The best option can actually be to refer a patient into smoking cessation, fitness and diet intervention programmes to help them change their lifestyle, which will in turn improve their condition and if necessary the outcome of any medical intervention.’