Suffolk: Spending on obesity surgery balloons

SURGERY costs for Suffolk’s dangerously obese patients is on course to top half a million pounds this year, new figures have revealed.

Spending on stomach-reducing procedures for Suffolk residents hit �389,760 in the first nine months of 2010/11, a 65 per cent hike on figures for 2009/10.

The statistics, obtained following a Freedom of Information request by the EADT, show 35 people went under the knife between April and December 2010.

Even in just nine months that represents a significant leap on numbers for the 2009/10 year, which saw 26 operations, and 2008/09, with 10 procedures.

The worrying figures come just months after Ipswich resident Paul Mason appeared in Channel 4 documentary ‘Britain’s Fattest Man’. The 50-year-old former postman weighed nearly 70-stone before successful life-saving gastric surgery last year.


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Dr Andrew Hassan, NHS Suffolk’s medical director, said: “Across East of England there is a consistent approach to providing the best possible treatment for people with morbid obesity.

“The eligibility criteria for bariatric surgery is set by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group and surgery is the last resort of treatment, with patients always having to try all other non-surgical measures before being considered for surgery.

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“Where surgery is carried out, a recent study has shown the positive benefits for patients, including an increased life expectancy.

“The increased cost of bariatric surgery is in line with other parts of the country and reflects an increase in the number of eligible patients.

“In Suffolk, which is a healthy county compared to the rest of the country, there are a number of initiatives to help people live longer, healthier lives, including weight management programmes and personal health trainers and I would encourage anyone with weight management issues to contact their GP.”

Dr Matthew Thalanany, director of public health at East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (EESCG), said:

“Providing the best treatment possible for people with morbid obesity is a key aim for the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group.

“In the last two years we have developed a consistent approach across the whole of the region and improved access to surgery. We are continuing to work closely with Primary Care Trusts to further develop prevention services so that fewer patients ever reach the stage of requiring a surgical intervention.

“Our criteria states that patients must have undergone a programme of intensive obesity management for at least six months and have tried all other appropriate non-surgical measures (where available) before they are considered for surgery.

“I would urge people with excess weight problems to go through weight management programmes locally, with the help of their GPs and other services.

“Surgery must always be a last resort as the procedures are incredibly invasive and are associated with very high risks.”

FACTBOX

Bariatric surgery cases and costs for Suffolk Primary Care Trust

2010/11 (to Dec) 2009/10 2008/09

Number of cases 35 26 10

Cost �389,760 �235,456 �84,400

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