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Advice from NICE aims to improve commissioning of services for weight management before, during and after pregnancy

31st March 2011

NICE has today (31st March 2011) published a commissioning guide on weight management before, during and after pregnancy. One of a series of good practice guides to support commissioners in designing services to improve outcomes for patients and to help the NHS make better use of its resources, the NICE commissioning guide draws on recent NICE public health guidance on dietary interventions and physical activity interventions for weight management before, during and after pregnancy.

As well as carrying significant health risks for the mother, obesity in pregnancy can also be costly for the NHS when complications arise in pregnancy, during delivery and following childbirth. The proportion of obese women in England is increasing and around half of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese. If interventions for weight management before, during and after pregnancy are successful, there are potential cost savings through avoidance of complications during pregnancy.

Illustrated with examples from the NHS, the NICE commissioning guide identifies the potential benefits and savings from effectively commissioning for weight management before, during and after pregnancy including:

reducing morbidity and mortality by reducing obesity-related complications before, during and after pregnancy
reducing the costs associated with obesity-related complications before, during and after pregnancy
increasing referrals by raising awareness among healthcare professionals of the health benefits of weight management, and the risks of being overweight or obese before, during and after pregnancy
raising awareness before pregnancy of the health benefits of weight management and the risks of being overweight or obese.
The commissioning guide contains:

An indicative benchmark for the number of women who are obese and who will become pregnant each year, which is estimated to be 5.3% of women aged 16-44.
A commissioning and benchmarking tool which commissioners can use to determine local service levels needed for the provision of weight management before, during and after pregnancy.
Yana Richens OBE, Consultant Midwife Public Health, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, and member of the topic-specific Advisory Group which developed the guide, said: “Obesity is one of the most common causes of pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality in England. There is evidence that developing weight management services for women before, during and after pregnancy can reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and during childbirth. The purpose of this guide is to ensure that high quality services are commissioned, not just to improve outcomes for women and children, but also to enable commissioners to take a critical look at whether the treatments and interventions they currently commission actually add value, and where resources could be released or savings made.”

While the commissioning guide draws on existing NICE recommendations, it does not constitute formal NICE guidance and is intended as a tool to help the NHS improve patient care through effective commissioning of services.

 

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