Geoff Oates said operating on Linda Wright would be a 'a waste of time' unless she gave up cigarettes. He said her smoker's cough would be certain to tear open the hernia repair soon after an operation.
Mrs Wright, of Fordrough Lane, Bordesley Green, Birmingham, who is confined to a wheelchair, admits a previous hernia operation in 1989 failed after three months. 'I am doing my best to give up, but it is very hard,' she said.
Mr Oates yesterday refused to comment on Mrs Wright's case. But Chris Tame, a spokesman for Forest, the 'freedom to smoke' organisation, said: 'Thousands of smokers with hernias have had operations over the years. They cannot all have been failures. We all pay into the NHS . . . It is a smokers' right to have the treatment they require.'