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Bury St Edmunds: West Suffolk Hospital’s spending on overweight patients tops £120,000 in three years

PUBLISHED: 12:07 14 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:07 14 July 2014

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Making adjustments for overweight patients has cost West Suffolk Hospital more than £120,000 in three years, the EADT can reveal today.

The hospital has been forced to splash out on things such as specialised beds, chairs and hoists to ensure it can provide care for bigger patients, according to figures released in a Freedom of Information request.

The statistics come just days after it was revealed that around a quarter of adults and one in six children in west Suffolk are obese.

Last year, public health and tackling obesity transferred to the remit of local authorities and Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, last night said it was a “key health priority” in the county.

“We know from figures published earlier this year by Public Health England that nearly two thirds of adults in Suffolk are overweight or obese,” he added.

“As a county, we’re not alone in seeing obesity and its related effects on health as a key health priority now and in the years to come.

“There’s no single solution to tackle the issue, but I must stress the importance of sensible eating and exercise as a means of managing weight and avoiding an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

Since the start of the 2011/12 financial year, West Suffolk Hospital has spent more than £20,000 on hiring beds for overweight patients.

More than £6,000 has been spent on hiring specialist chairs, some of which lift patients out of the seat mechanically.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “Like many other NHS hospitals, we have invested in some specialist equipment such as beds, chairs and hoists to help us provide safe, effective care for larger patients.”

Last week the Local Government Association (LGA) called for an ‘obesity action fund’ where local authorities would get a slice of the VAT on things like fast food, soft drinks and confectionery.

LGA chairman David Sparks said: “This extra money would be a massive boost in the battle to combat obesity. It would help tackle head-on the crippling problems often associated with the condition, like diabetes.

“Councils are doing everything they can to curb obesity at a local level. This involves ground-breaking health and fitness programmes and schemes.

“This extra money would enable them to ramp up their efforts and really make a major impact on tackling this condition.”

Obese adults (%) Obese children (Year Six) (%)

Babergh 21.7 15.4

Forest Heath 23.6 17.6

St Edmundsbury 23.2 15.8

Suffolk 21.8 16.9

England 23 18.9

* Figures from the latest public health profiles from Public Health England

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