THOUSANDS of men are being made to suffer in pain after being denied groin hernia ops on the NHS, a study reveals.
More than half of England’s health districts are rationing the procedure, potentially placing some fellas at risk of death.
The Royal College of Surgeons, which conducted the survey of Clinical Commission Groups, branded the situation a “disgrace” The hernia usually occurs when a weakness in the abdominal wall allows fatty tissue or a part of the bowel to burst into the groin.
It can cause pain and lead to severe complications if left untreated. Surgery is the only way to cure to cure the condition but the risk of death is seven times higher if left until it becomes an emergency.
Some 52 per cent of CCGs require patients to be in so much pain that it affects their everyday activities or work before they will operate. And 5 per cent will only act if the hernia does not fall back into place when the patient lies down, or if it grows from month to month.
Just 24 per cent follow clinical guidelines from the British Hernia Society and the Royal College of Surgeons, the survey shows. Susan Hill, from the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that some patients have to demonstrate what could be a life-threatening complication of a hernia, which is one of the most straightforward surgical conditions to treat.
“Instead of asking patients to prove their pain, Ministers and NHS England should immediately intervene to allow patients to talk to their surgeon about whether they need an operation. Allowing commissioning groups, not patients with their surgeon, to make a decision to operate is putting patients at unnecessary risk of serious complications.”
David Sanders, from the British Hernia Society, said: “It is simply not acceptable to justify restrictive criteria as best practice. This denies patients access to a procedure that potentially limits pain and improves quality of life.
“The NHS has to be very clear about what it offers. Does it want a value for money service with quality and safety as a priority, or a rationed service that will inevitably put some patients at risk?”