West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group has suspended all non-urgent surgery to ensure £3.2m of savings.
The decision by the West Kent CCG is believed to be the longest ban in NHS history, affecting around 1,700 patients with scheduled procedures between December 20 last year and April 2017.
According to the Guardian report, postponed operations include knee and hip repairs, as well as surgery to help patients with pain and mobility.
It is the latest example of cash-strapped CCGs implementing controversial restrictions on patients’ access to treatment which doctors have agreed they need. The news follows a series of rows over the growing number of England’s 209 CCGs which are rationing care to smokers and those who are obese.
Last night, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) warned that the decision was “unprecedented and unfair”.
Dr Ian Ayres, the accountable officer for the group, reiterated that no patients would have their procedures cancelled as a result of the policy.
“Patients will continue to be referred by their GP outpatient appointment and be seen by a consultant,” he said. “A judgment will then be made as to whether the required procedure is urgent, or non-urgent and could wait. Therefore, no one with an urgent healthcare need will be made to wait.”
He also explained that a list of delayed operations had not been prescribed.