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More obesity surgery needed

8th September 2010

A new study has suggested that there should be more obesity operations carried out on the NHS.

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The findings of the Office of Health Economics (OHE) claim that millions of pounds are lost in England by the failure of the NHS to provide more obesity operations.

With about a million people meeting the criteria for bariatric surgery and only 3,600 operations carried out last year, there are fears that the low number of operations could be hitting the economy.

Analysing data, official guidelines and NHS trust figures, the OHE calculates that £1.3bn could be saved over three years if only 25% of eligible patients received treatment.

They say more people would be able to work and there would be fewer demands on the NHS.

However, it also emerged that the study was funded by firms involved in making equipment used in obesity surgery.

The gastric banding procedure involves fitting a band around the stomach while a gastric bypass reroutes food to a small stomach pouch created by surgeons.

Dr David Haslam of the National Obesity Forum, which commissioned the research along with the Royal College of Surgeons, said the government needed to improve access to treatment.

Bariatric surgeon Peter Sedman said: “Surgery can literally transform people's lives in a way that no other treatment is able to, getting them back to work and contributing fully to society.”

The Department of Health said bariatric surgery should be regarded as a last resort and instead it was encouraging people to pursue healthier lifestyles.

 

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