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Appeal judges to rule on 'morbidly obese' man

11 July 2011

Appeal judges are hearing today a claim by a “morbidly obese” man from the West Midlands that the failure of the NHS to give him a gastric bypass operation is a breach of his human rights. A gastric bypass reduces the size of the stomach and small intestine, allowing food to bypass much of them.

Thomas Condliff, who is 62 and has diabetes, brought a judicial review against North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust, which reached the High Court in April this year.

The court heard that Condliff’s “needle phobia” delayed his treatment for diabetes, after which he “developed a gross appetite and began to gorge himself”.

His weight increased to more than 20 stone and his BMI (body mass index) to 43, but this was not enough for him for qualify for a gastric bypass, which the North Staffordshire PCT limits to those with a BMI of more than 50.

Condliff then applied, with the support of his GP, for exceptional funding for the operation. The PCT rejected the application, on the grounds that it was not exceptional.

At the High Court, the former policeman argued that the PCT’s policy, preventing it from taking “social factors” into account when determining exceptionality, breached his right to family life under article 8 of the Convention.

His GP had mentioned in a letter the fact he had to use a wheelchair, was housebound apart from medical visits and could no longer go to church or play the guitar.

Even if the decision was justified, Condliff argued that the PCT had breached his article 6 rights to a fair hearing by failing to give adequate reasons for the decision.

Judge Waksman QC, sitting as a High Court judge, rejected the claim. The Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled to run for two days.

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