Further rationing of weight loss surgery in the NHS.
I don’t know whether, like me, you read with disappointment the articles that appeared in the papers about further rationing of weight loss surgery in the NHS.
The latest headlines relate to the fact that provision of this life changing surgery is being limited to those people living in Yorkshire.
The NHS commissioning Group covering a large part of Yorkshire has decided that it will only fund weight loss surgery for patients where a special application is made to a panel of experts who will sit and decide whether the case can go ahead. This is despite the fact that the case may be within the guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
It reduces the provision of weight loss surgery to a similar status as applies to experimental procedures and treatments where special approval is needed, yet we know that weight loss surgery is effective and the cost of surgery pays back through future healthcare savings in less than 2 years.
It’s a thankless job for the commissioning groups because they have countless deserving patients for a whole range of treatments and insufficient resources to pay for it all. The truth is that the shortfall in funding is so vast that no government of any colour could afford to fix it.
It means that those patients who need a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass procedure that will change their lives and heal the weight related problems increasingly will have to pay themselves.
On a positive note, this approach skips waiting lists and address the problem before health has deteriorated further, but that will be of little consolation to the Yorkshire based diabetic with a body mass index of 45 who simply can’t afford the bypass they need!