A dentist's surgery has been accused of fat-shaming its patients after it banned anyone over 20 stone from sitting on its specialist chairs.
Hove Family Dental in Hove, East Sussex, was concerned that people weighing over 127 kg could be at risk of breaking their expensive equipment.
Complaints began coming in following the announcement, where the practice said it was concerned that people weighing above the red line could “exceed equipment capabilities”.
The chairs are worth around £20,000 and have already been broken twice by some of their heavier customers.
The email, warning patients of Hove Family’s new protocol, said: “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].
“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…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.”
Technicians have had to come in twice in the past to mend damage to the chairs from heavy pressure, forcing the practice to close.
According to theMail, staff have had to step in to help overweight patients in and out of the chair in the past.
Speaking to the paper Practice manager Tracey Stephens, 55, said that the surgery had been forced into action by an increase in the number of overweight patients.
“It is getting to that stage where we are seeing more and more overweight patients and we’ve had the chair break twice.
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“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.”
She added that the chairs were “really quite expensive” hardware and that technician callouts can cost hundreds of pounds per visit.
On customer has since said that the policy “body shames” people struggling with their weight.
They said: “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 [finding] a dentist, this only makes the problem worse."
Estimates from The Health Survey for England 2019 indicated that in England around 28% of adults are obese and 36.2% are overweight.
The Equality Act 2010 makes clear that providers of services are expected to make their services accessible to people with disabilities.
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