NHS obesity operation access inconsistent, surgeons say
Published: 21st Jan 2010 01:56:45
Access to weight loss operations on the NHS is "inconsistent and unethical", the Royal College of Surgeons has said.
The RCS says some patients who meet the criteria for stomach surgery of England and Wales health watchdog NICE have to wait until they become even more obese.
It estimates the 4,300 operations such as gastric band fittings carried out by the NHS last year met only 2% of need.
The NHS Confederation said primary care trusts had to balance local needs and priorities while planning services.
The RCS warning comes as the Medical Defence Union (MDU) releases figures showing a rise in the number of compensation claims by obese people who have suffered complications after private stomach operations - including one death.
There are no centrally collected figures for complications after NHS weight loss surgery.
The RCS has launched a national registry for these operations to try to get a better picture of what is happening.
It says access to stomach surgery on the NHS is "inconsistent, unethical and completely dependent on geographical location" - despite guidelines issued by NICE three years ago, which aimed to provide consistent treatment in England and Wales.
Surgeons have accused some NHS trusts of raising the bar, so that only the most extremely ill patients are being referred for operations.
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.
"Sometimes, unless the patient moves house, they will not be referred - or if they are, the treatment is subsequently blocked."
The RCS says about 240,000 people want weight loss surgery - yet only 4,300 NHS operations were carried out last year.
A similar number are carried out in private hospitals every year.
The MDU's figures show that since 2003, there have been 35 compensation claims for weight loss surgery paid for privately - 21 of them have been in the past two years.
Obesity patient describes complications
In at least one case a patient died following an infection, which was allegedly caused by the gut being perforated.
Another patient had to be put on a ventilator after a leak following a gastric bypass led to an infection.
Other problems involved gastric bands slipping or leaking.
The MDU, which insures doctors, says most of the claims are still ongoing, with the estimated value of each one ranging from £2,500 and £500,000. Not all cases will result in payouts.
Its chief executive, Dr Christine Tomkins, said: "These claims aren't surprising, given that this type of surgery is fairly new.
"There's usually a time lag between an incident occurring and a claim being made.
"We want to try to help our members avoid some of the common problems we're highlighting."
Demand for the operations continues to grow each year. One company, BMI Healthcare, said it was seeing a 20% year-on-year increase.
Experts warn that surgery to tackle obesity is a medical procedure, rather than a cosmetic operation.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "Independent guidance on obesity from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that drugs and surgery should always be a last resort."
At 13:02:52 in Northern IrelandLawyers for the family of Sinn Féin official and republican informer Denis Donaldson have said they would take legal action to secure his journal.
At 12:49:04 in HeadlinesA Somali MP has been killed by a car bomb in the capital, Mogadishu, officials say.
At 12:42:49 in WorldIn the mid-1980s as a young undergraduate student of Latin American politics, to me Gabriel Garcia Marquez was as much a political historian as he was a writer of fantastical novels.
At 12:40:43 in SportCornish Pirates prop Alan Paver says he enjoyed his first taste of coaching the side in their 48-36 loss at Bedford.
At 12:35:24 in Northern IrelandAuthorities in the Republic of Ireland are considering a proposal to revamp the grading system for university entrance exams.
At 12:24:18 in EntertainmentAvengers director Joss Whedon has surprised fans by releasing his latest film online at the same time as it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
At 12:23:24 in ScotlandA 52-year-old woman has died and an 18-year-old man is in a critical condition following a crash in East Ayrshire.
At 12:21:07 in SportBack-row duo Ryan Wilson and James Eddie have secured contract extensions with Glasgow Warriors.
At 12:15:18 in EnglandA 30-year-old man has been left in a critical condition after he was attacked with a "sharp object" by a gang in Liverpool city centre.
At 12:05:44 in SportUlster prop Declan Fitzpatrick is to return to Northern Ireland on Monday after being treated in a Glasgow hospital for an irregular heartbeat.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. NHS obesity operation access inconsistent, surgeons say [Online] (Updated 21st Jan 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/12207/NHS-obesity-operation-access-inconsistent-surgeons-say [Accessed 21st Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
The family of man who died after his motorcycle hit a parked vehicle have described him as "irreplaceable".
The incidence of the most serious skin cancer in Great Britain is now five times higher than it was in the 1970s, figures show.
The head of the CBI has said the business organisation does not think the economic case for Scottish independence has been made.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Cornish Pirates prop Alan Paver says he enjoyed his first taste of coaching the side in their 48-36 loss at Bedford.
Avengers director Joss Whedon has surprised fans by releasing his latest film online at the same time as it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.