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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 19:18 GMT
Hospital refuses to treat smoker
Fred Smith
Mr Smith fears his condition could worsen while he waits
A Lincoln man has criticised a hospital which is refusing to treat him until he stops smoking.

Lincoln County Hospital has told Frederick Smith, 60, he must give up his 15-a-day habit for six months before he can be treated.

Mr Smith said the narrowing of the arteries in his leg could be caused by a number of things, not just smoking.

But a spokeswoman for Lincoln County Hospital said treating smokers sent out the message they condoned the habit.

Mr Smith said: "All I want to know is what is causing this.

To proceed with treatment whilst patients smoke gives the wrong message
Hospital spokesperson

"Who's to know I could be in a wheelchair in six months' time. Perhaps unable to walk, maybe even lose a leg, or even my life.

"It would cost far more to put that sort of problem right than seeing me now."

The hospital spokesperson said: "To proceed with treatment whilst patients smoke gives the wrong message as it condones the habit.

"This view is supported by recent guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Vascular Society."

Surgeon Andrew Lamerton wrote to Mr Smith advising him to stop smoking: "Giving up smoking may lead to an improvement in a patient's symptoms.

"Unless the condition was limb-threatening this would always be the preferred option and the best course of action for the patient, helping them to avoid medical or surgical intervention."

Mr Lamerton said that in 75% of patients who take his advice and stop smoking for six months there is an improvement in symptoms and no other treatment is necessary.

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