Can I have a gastric band on the NHS?
The NHS criteria for weight loss surgery is to treat people with potentially life-threatening obesity when other treatments, such as lifestyle changes, haven't worked. The NICE guidelines for NHS weight loss surgery are:
- to have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above. Check your BMI here
- to have a BMI of 35 or above and a serious health condition that could be improved if you lose weight, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure
The eligibility criteria for a private (self-funded) gastric band are different and allow for surgery from a BMI of 30 and upwards, depending on your weight loss history and general health. You can read more about the NICE and private clinic guidelines that apply here.
You can learn more about the gastric band, how it works and what it takes to be successful in this 49-second video.
It’s a remarkable statistic that an additional 60,000 UK adults every year have a body mass index that passes 40. It is estimated that 2.6 million people in the country are eligible for weight loss surgery using the NICE guidelines, and the number is rising quickly. See more stats about the UK’s obesity problem.
Due to budget constraints, very few of those who would benefit from weight loss surgery are able to get a gastric band on the NHS so most gastric bands are now done privately. Although it means meeting the upfront cost yourself there are lots of benefits from going private. Its also important to keep in mind that for many patients the gastric band will fund itself in the years ahead through lower spending on food and meals, and in some cases on prescriptions. There is also research to show that people who have weight loss surgery see their earnings and earning a potential increase. See the ‘Band Butler’s’ blog about this here.
The main benefits of having your gastric band privately are:
- No waiting lists or delays (eligible patients can have surgery within 2-3 weeks)
- A choice of dates for your surgery, including weekends
- Choice of surgeon
- Choice of hospital
- Day case surgery (no overnight stay)
- Most importantly, aftercare from a team of gastric band specialists
It's a sad fact that very few gastric bands are performed at all in the NHS with the most commonly performed weight loss surgery being the gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. This is because there are few ongoing costs associated with a bypass, unlike gastric band surgery which requires frequent follow-up appointments and adjustments, adding a further drain on NHS resources.
The bypass is the most powerful weight loss procedure and the one that offers the greatest short term health benefits. As the NHS focuses on the patients who are most in need this is another reason why bypass procedures outnumber bands. The gastric band is often the better procedure for patients who have not reached this stage. Read more about the gastric band here.
From an NHS perspective, weight loss surgery will be focused on those patients who will benefit the most and most significantly reduce their need for NHS resources in the long term. It can take years to get a decision on eligibility and even if deemed eligible, patients are expected to follow a series of pre-operative assessments to determine their commitment to change, including following a diet plan for up to 6 months.
Many patients find the NHS process both very long and hard to follow. As a result of this and reduced NHS capacity an ever higher proportion of weight loss surgery is expected to be done privately. In reality, if you want or need weight loss surgery it is likely you will need to pay for it yourself.
To determine if you are eligible for a gastric band on the NHS, please consult your GP.
Eligibility for a gastric band?
Arranging a private gastric band operation is simple. We accept self-referrals which means you don't have to be referred by your GP. Although we recommend you do so, you don't have to inform your GP, or anyone else at all, if that is your choice. We understand this will be a very personal decision for you.
Our BMI eligibility criteria for a gastric band is lower than the NHS so you can make the decision to take control of your weight at an earlier stage and potentially before you start to suffer from weight related conditions. At Healthier Weight, you are likely to be eligible for a private gastric band if you have a BMI of 30kg/m2
or higher. Find your nearest private Healthier Weight hospital here.
Your eligibility for a gastric band will be based primarily on your pre-operative consultation with your surgeon. This consultation is free of charge. Unlike the NHS you will not be required to follow a long term diet plan to confirm your eligibility. Instead, eligible patients can be listed for surgery as little as 2 weeks after their surgeon consultation.
How much does a gastric band cost privately?
Specialist UK clinics generally do gastric band surgery for a price of £5,750 to £7,500. Prices above £6,500 can be considered high.
Funding your private gastric band procedure*
Many people require full or part finance to cover the cost of their gastric band procedure and we offer a range of options to suit your requirements so price doesn't have to hold you back.
afforditNOW loan up to the full cost of your procedure
With an afforditNOW loan you can repay over 36 or 48 months and you will only need a deposit of £600 in order to proceed.
Instalment plan Instalment plan to fund part of your procedure cost
You can defer (delay) up to £1500 of your gastric band surgery cost with our in-house Healthier Weight plan linked to your aftercare package. You would pay the balance upfront and spread the deferred £1500 over 12 months into INTEREST FREE monthly instalments.
Could your band pay for itself?
When considering the cost of your band and how you might pay for it don't forget to take into account the savings you can expect to make. Not only will you save money on food, but weight loss surgery patients often see their earnings and earning potential increase. See more on this here.