PRESS ASSOCIATION -- A former police officer is taking his legal battle over a health trust's refusal to fund obesity surgery to the Court of Appeal.
Tom Condliff, who weighs 22 stone, says he needs the stomach operation to save his life. In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, he is appealing on Monday against a High Court judge's refusal of his application for judicial review.
The 62-year-old wants to overturn North Staffordshire PCT's decision not to fund a gastric bypass operation, claiming the "irrational" decision violated his rights under the Human Rights Act and also breached the trust's own funding policy.
In the High Court last April, Judge Waksman said he had "considerable sympathy" for Mr Condliff but his claim must fail. The judge said it was still open to Mr Condliff to make a further funding request "if thought appropriate".
Mr Condliff, a grandfather from Talke, Staffordshire, became obese because of the drugs he has taken to treat long-term diabetes. Specialists have told him a gastric bypass operation would not only help him shed pounds but could also control his diabetes, leading to other ailments fading away.
The High Court was told that, at 6ft 2in, he weighed 22 stone (139 kg) and had a BMI (body mass index) of 43kg/m2 (6.7 stone/m2) - not high enough to qualify for surgery where he lives, although it would in the area of a neighbouring trust.
Judge Waksman said Mr Condliff had tried non-surgical interventions including dietary, lifestyle changes and drugs, all of which were unsuccessful and he became obese with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40. The judge said everyone agreed gastric bypass surgery was "clinically appropriate" for him but North Staffordshire PCT provided routine surgery only for those with a BMI of more than 50.
Supported by his GP and specialists treating him, Mr Condliff applied for funding in February last year on the grounds that his case was "exceptional". The request was rejected. A second request was made, accompanied by evidence that Mr Condliff's physical and mental condition was deteriorating, but it was also rejected and Mr Condliff was told that "non-clinical social factors" could not be taken into account.
The judge said it was argued on Mr Condliff's behalf that the PCT decision breached his right to respect for his private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dismissing his claim, the judge ruled his Article 8 rights had not been violated, nor were his rights to a fair hearing under Article 6 (1).
On Monday, Mr Condliff will ask Lord Justice Maurice Kay, who is vice president of the Appeal Court's civil division, Lady Justice Hallett and Lord Justice Toulson to overturn the High Court ruling.
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