Another week, another government attack on fatties and smokers as The Sun told readers that the 'fatties' op' ban is 'fair'. It quoted health secretary Patricia Hewitt who said it was 'perfectly legitimate' for trusts to refuse some treatments to heavy smokers and obese patients.

Another week, another government attack on fatties and smokers as The Sun told readers that the 'fatties' op' ban is 'fair'. It quoted health secretary Patricia Hewitt who said it was 'perfectly legitimate' for trusts to refuse some treatments to heavy smokers and obese patients.

The Daily Telegraph followed suit, saying Ms Hewitt had 'defended the right of doctors and managers to draw up local guidelines after a survey revealed that some trusts are already banning operations'.

The research for Sky News found at least four trusts have stopped orthopaedic surgery for smokers. The Daily Star headline read: 'Fat chance of an NHS op' as it quoted Ms Hewitt, who responded to the survey by saying: 'In a few places doctors have come together to put in place guidelines for all their patients.

'This isn't a matter for managers or ministers - it's a matter for doctors and always has been.'

The Daily Mail said the spread of the policy had brought 'angry protests' from experts, opposition MPs and patient groups.

The tabloid quoted National Obesity Forum chair Dr Colin Waine, who called the move 'very distressing' and said Ms Hewitt appeared to see obesity as a 'self-inflicted problem of which she can wash her hands'.

Meanwhile, the Mail's leader told readers that 'the core principle of the NHS used to be that it was there for those who need it. Not any more it isn't'.

And it said that although clinical decisions for not treating patients were legitimate in some cases, 'they should never be used by managers as an excuse to save money'.

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