Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK

Smoker sues hospital

If it gets to court, this will be the first case of its kind

A smoker is suing two NHS trusts, claiming they delayed treating his potentially fatal heart condition because of his habit.

Mike Sale, a former nurse, claims he was discriminated against because he smoked in what is thought to be the first case of its kind in the UK.

The BBC's John Thorne: "Mr Sale is claiming negligence"
Mr Sale alleges that Scunthorpe and Goole Hospitals Trust and the Royal Hull Hospitals Trust were negligent in their treatment of him.

The case starts on Thursday.

Mr Sale, from Old Goole in East Yorkshire, says he first experienced heart problems after climbing a mountain in the Lake District and running a half-marathon in May 1992.

Private treatment

But, he says, the hospitals were negligent by delaying the quadruple by-pass surgery he needed.

He underwent the complex operation in March 1994 after Harley Street specialists told him that his life was in danger if he was not treated immediately.

By that stage, a tobacco company had paid for Mr Sale to be treated privately.

Spokesmen for the smokers' rights group Forest and the anti-smoking group action on Smoking and Health said that if the case was not settled before reaching court it would be the first such civil action.

A similar case in Southampton was settled out of court without the hospital accepting any liability.


The director of ASH said the group's position on the issue of discrimination was clear.

Clive Bates said: "If a patient is refused treatment simply because they are a smoker, then we don't agree with that.

"But if the decision not to treat is clinical - that is, if the doctors believe the operation will fail - then that is justified.

"However, because of the damage they do to their bodies', smokers are more likely not to benefit from an operation."

The case will be heard at Pontefract County Court in West Yorkshire and is expected to last two days.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Internet Links

Forest - smokers' rights campaign

Action on Smoking and Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Smoker drops discrimination claim

Young smokers risk greater genetic damage

Anti-depressants beat the craving

10m lung cancer blitz

Tobacco firms 'hid safer cigarettes'

Cancer sufferers abandon tobacco case

Cigarettes: a complex cocktail of chemicals

High Court rules against tobacco claimants

Alert over herbal cigarettes

Smokers advised to combine therapies

Health coalition begins anti-smoking crusade

From Sci/Tech
Smoking cities

Dobson launches tobacco crusade

Mixed reaction to tobacco White Paper

Public say passive smoking is dangerous

Higher death risk for women smokers

Government targets young smokers

Controversy on passive smoking measures

Nicotine patches to be free on the NHS

From UK Politics
Controversial ban among tobacco controls

Tobacco tax hike prompts smuggling warning

'Stop tobacco firms targeting children'