A 17ST grandmother has accused the NHS of "fat discrimination" after being refused a hip operation - unless she loses weight.

Carol Bishop, 73, suffers with arthritis and was referred to hospital in July for a hip replacement after suffering with pain on her left side.

But she claims medics told her she had to lose three stone before she could have an op because of the increased risk that comes with operating on overweight patients.

Grandmother-of-three Carol said she's too old to lose such a huge amount of weight - and she's quite happy the way she is.

The retired day centre worker has accused health workers of discrimination, and said they operated on her right hip 13 years ago, when she was the same weight.

But a spokeswoman for Yeovil Hospital said staff were led by national guidelines, and "being overweight significantly increases the risk of complications".

Carol, from Mudford, Somerset, said: "It's a lot of weight to lose at my age. Too lose three stone at my age, it's just too much.

"It's fat discrimination. It's discrimination against fat people because it's measuring them by their weight.

"They can do operations on anyone. You can have problems in operations when you are thin.

"I think they are saying it to save money.

"I feel like it's unfair on large people. Why should they suffer?

"I'm in pain. I'm not even that comfortable in bed. I can't even have a bath now because I can't get out of it.

"I'm worried I'm not going to be able to get up the stairs soon."

She said she was trying to lose weight, watching what she eats.

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"I don't go gorging on food, I don't do that," she said. "I cook everything we have. I don't buy ready made stuff. We don't have puddings.

"I'm as active as I can be. I had a phone call from our medical practise. She said 'have you thought about going to the gym?' I said 'pardon?' I can hardly lift me foot off the ground, how can I go to the gym?

"I think they think because you are on the large side, you don't do anything, but that's wrong.

"I do my own house work. I used to do a volunteering job at the day centre, but I had to give that up because of all this.

"They say operating now could be a risk. I'm sure it's just excuses.

"It's discrimination against the fat. If it was an ethnic group they were saying this to there would be an outcry."

Mum-of-two Carol, who is married to husband Norman, 79, said she weighed around 11st until she gave up smoking around 25 years ago.

She is now around 17st and approximately a size 26 and said she has always felt healthy and was happy with her size.

She suffers with arthritis and had her right hip replaced on the NHS around 13 years ago and medics at the time did not mention her weight, she claims.

"I never felt like I had to get rid of it," she said.

"I have always felt healthy. I have never felt my size was an issue."

"The operation was absolutely wonderful and has been marvellous ever since.

"I'm wearing the same clothes now as I was then, so I know I am the same size."

She said she started suffering problems with her other hip in May, and knew straight away it would require the same replacement.

"It felt exactly the same as last time," she said.

"It started with a pain down my shin."

She said she was referred to Yeovil Hospital for a pre-surgery appointment in July where medics told her she had to lose weight before they'd operate.

She said: "The chap was very nice but he said that the rule is now that you have to be whatever weight to have the operation.

"He said you have to get rid of the weight - that I have to lose weight - to have it.

"It worked out at about three stone."

She said she initially lost around a stone because she was unwell, but the surgeon told her to lose more.

"He started going on about risk of blood clots," she said.

"He was very dismissive.

"Yes there are dangers, but yes it could happen to anyone. All operations have dangers associated.

"I told him to do it with an epidural if it's too risky otherwise, but he said 'no, you're too fat' or 'you're too overweight'.

"He said you need to be this weight first before we can do it.

"They sent me off with some charts with weights on.

"But I didn't have to lose the weight before I had the last one done.

"But they've told me to just come back when I've lost it.

"What I'm worried about is I'm not going to be able to walk soon, and once the hip goes they can't do anything about it. That's what is worrying me.

"I'm not ready to be in a wheelchair and have people do everything for me.

"I'm happy to lose weight but I think three stone is too much.

"You would have all this hanging skin. What am I going to do with that? I can't afford plastic surgery.

"If I could afford to go privately for the hip operation I would.

"If I fell over the street and hurt myself and needed an operation, they would do it.

"I think it's to do with finance.

"They want to make the books look good by saying we haven't done these operations this year."

A spokesperson for Yeovil Hospital said: "Whilst we do not comment on individual cases, we can confirm that all of our orthopaedic surgeons follow guidance set out by Somerset CCG in line with national guidelines.

"These are in place to protect patients and were updated in 2016.

"Our overriding concern when planning and carrying out any operation is the safety and

health of the patient.

"Hip replacement surgery is an invasive procedure and being overweight significantly increases the risk of complications during surgery, while under anaesthetic, and in recovery.

"This is always taken into consideration when deciding on whether surgery is the best treatment option for a patient at that time.

"The surgical team will offer advice to patients who are not immediately suitable for surgery due to their weight and continually review each case on an individual basis."

ENDS