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Big rise in NHS-funded cosmetic operations
The number of boob jobs, tummy tucks and botox injections funded by the NHS in Hertfordshire has ballooned over the past three years.
In the last financial year, NHS Hertfordshire primary care trust (PCT) has paid for more than three times as many normally-unfunded procedures, including cosmetic surgery,
During 2009/10 the PCT funded ten breast procedures, including reductions and augmentation, and 20 obesity operations.
The following year this increased to 46 breast and 11 abdominoplasty procedures, commonly known as a tummy tuck.
In the last financial year, the PCT funded 61 breast procedures, 17 botox injections, 14 operations for vein abnormalities and 15 blepharoplasty procedures - surgical modifications of the eyelid.
These breast procedures funded by the NHS do not include reconstruction related to cancer.
Funding is available for plastic surgery following trauma, burns or problems resulting from medical treatment, as well as cosmetic or aesthetic procedures to improve appearance.
As a primary care trust (PCT) NHS Hertfordshire receives money from the Government to pay for the residents' healthcare in the county.
The priority for the money is for "clinically effective" medicines and treatments, ones which improve people’s health and also offer good value for money.
In addition, it may also provide money for other treatments not normally paid for by the PCT,
In order to apply for this funding, a patient must complete an individual funding request (IFR) and prove they are an exceptional case, on a number of factors including psychological distress.
Since the 2009/10 financial year, the PCT has rejected 61 abdominoplasties, 644 breast procedures and 693 botox operations.
The number of breast procedures rejected by the PCT has reduced year on year, with 240 refused in 2009/10, 214 in the next year, and 190 in the last financial year.
However the number of rejected botox requests has increased from 203, to 235, and 255 in the last financial year.
Dot Lutkin, from NHS Hertfordshire, said funding requests will only be approved if there is evidence that shows the procedure will be of clinical benefit to the patient.
She added: "While it’s not possible to say precisely why there has been an increase in the number of breast procedures, we can confirm that all those who have been approved will have met NHS Hertfordshire’s clinical eligibility criteria.
"Cosmetic breast augmentation or corrective surgery for asymmetry is considered low priority and therefore not generally funded unless there is significant asymmetry or congenital absence."