A dental surgery has banned obese patients weighing more than 20 stone over fears their chairs cannot cope with their weight.
Furious customers accused Hove Family Dental in, Hove, East Sussex, of fat-shaming after it informed patients it would not be treating anyone over 127kg, or just under 20 stones.
In a warning email to customers, bosses said they would not see people who were too heavy for their chairs over worries they may ‘exceed equipment capabilities’.
The chairs, each costing about £20,000, have already broken twice under the weight of its heaviest customers.
The email read: ‘This is a polite message to all our patients from the Hove family dental practice.
‘Due to health and safety regulations, we will unfortunately not be able to treat patients that exceed the safety weight limit restrictions for our dental chairs of 127kg [20 stones].
Practice manager Tracey Stephens, 55, said the chairs, each costing about £20,000, have already broken twice under the weight of its heaviest customers (Pictured: Stock photo of a dentist’s chair)
‘We appreciate and understand that this is a sensitive issue and want to address this with our patients in a delicate manner, but we do have a duty of care to all our patients and a legal obligation under the health and safety at work act 1974 to operate in a safe environment and not exceed equipment capabilities.
‘If you feel this restriction may apply to you, please call [redacted] before your next appointment.
‘We will discuss with you your referral options for your future care in full confidentiality. We will endeavour to ensure that your care continues uninterrupted.’
The private surgery was previously forced to close while technicians replaced a part that twice broke under heavy pressure.
On some occasions, staff have even been forced to step in and help overweight customers in and out of the chair.
Practice manager Tracey Stephens, 55, said a boom in obese patients has forced the surgery to act.
Furious customers accused Hove Family Dental in, Hove, East Sussex, of fat-shaming after it informed patients it would not be treating anyone over 127kg, or just under 20 stones
She told the Mail: ‘It is getting to that stage where we are seeing more and more overweight patients and we’ve had the chair break twice.
‘We’re getting occasions where staff are having to help patients in and out of the chair which is a health and safety issue as well.
‘We don’t want to discriminate against anybody and we know it is really difficult and sensitive.
‘Chairs can be up to £20,000, they are really quite expensive bits of equipment. There is a part every time the technician has come in that has been a few hundred pounds. We’ve had to close the surgery as well in that time.
‘There is a maximum weight limit of 20 stone and we have never refused anybody at all.’
As pressure on the health service continues to grow, one furious customer said the move ‘body shames’ overweight people who struggle to keep their weight down.
‘This is fattest to people who can’t keep their weight down. I’m shocked, I couldn’t believe the email when I got it.
‘It is an absolute disgrace. It body shames people who may have underlying health conditions.
‘With pressures already on the health service and difficulties in funding a dentist, this only makes the problem worse.
‘I would expect better from those providing care at a price.’
The Health Survey for England 2019 estimates that 28 per cent of adults in England are obese and a further 36.2 per cent are overweight.
Under the Equality Act 2010, service providers are expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that people with disabilities aren’t disadvantaged.
According to Dental Defence Union guidance, dentists who believe a patient cannot be treated safely in the practice will still need to make sure the patient has access to ‘a reasonable alternative’ for their dental care.