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Obese ops inconsistent

21st January 2010

The Royal College of Surgeons has said that access to weight-loss operations on the NHS is inconsistent and unethical.

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Last year, 4,300 gastric band fittings were conducted by the NHS but the RCS believes this only met 2% of the need with some 240,000 people wanting weight-loss surgery.

The RCS has launched a national registry for these operations to try to provide a clearer indication of the position.

But it remains concerned that access to stomach surgery on the NHS is “inconsistent, unethical and completely dependent on geographical location.”

Three years ago, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines aiming to ensure levels of treatment were consistent across England and Wales.

The RCS warning coincides with Medical Defence Union (MDU) figures showing a rise in compensation claims by patients suffering complications after private stomach operations.

No compensation figures are available for such operations on the NHS.

David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation's PCT Network, said PCTs had very strict guidelines about when such operations should be provided but these had to be balanced against local priorities.

"In each case we have to look at what we do first between competing priorities in the local area,” he said.

However, Hull-based surgeon Peter Sedman said: "There is absolutely no doubt that some patients more needy of surgical treatment than others are being denied it.”

The Department of Health said that the NICE guidelines recommend that “drugs and surgery should always be a last resort” for patients wanting to lose weight.

 

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Article Information

Title: Obese ops inconsistent
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 13843
Date Added: 21st Jan 2010

Sources

BBC News

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