Australian doctors have owned up to postponing the treatment of smokers, as doctors in Britain refuse to even see patients who are not willing to kick the habit.
Vascular surgeon Zahid Reza, from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, sparked outrage in Scotland when he revealed his clinic is refusing to accept GP referrals for patients who continued to smoke, unless it was an emergency.
‘Evidence shows that they would not do well with the treatment. In around 80 percent of cases, a smoker’s condition will improve just simply by stopping smoking and making other lifestyle changes,” he told The Scotsman.
Australian and New Zealand Society of Vascular Surgeons’ President, Dr John Quinn says while Australian doctors would not refuse to see a patient “some are refused immediate treatment.”
Patients who were suffering vascular pain when they walked but who were not yet in danger of losing a limb would be urged to quit smoking to cure the problem rather than get an operation for a stent, he said.
“As surgeons we have the right not to treat in certain circumstances like obesity or smoking, if the patient doesn’t change behavior,” he said.
The public purse does not have enough money and “if you’ve got to ration treatment, there are better outcomes for those who are off the cigarettes and they should be treated first in certain circumstances,” Dr Quinn said.