Can I get my gastric sleeve on the NHS?
Can I get my gastric sleeve on the NHS? Whether you are eligible for a gastric sleeve through the NHS will depend on your body mass index, your general state of health, wherein the country you live in and you GP being willing to refer you. The same applies whether it is a gastric sleeve, band or bypass you are interested in having. Indeed when you have surgery through the NHS your choice of procedure will be more restricted than if you go private. As an example, few NHS Trusts offer bands now as the sleeve and bypass procedures are better suited to the needs of patients who are dealing with weight-related health problems. This is usually the case for NHS patients.
We provide more information on eligibility below, but first please view our short animated video about the sleeve. It takes just 49 seconds and is a good way to start your research into the procedure. If you want more information visit our ‘gastric sleeve centre’.
If NICE regard so many as eligible for surgery why are so few cases being done?
We estimate that fewer than 5000 weight loss surgery procedures will be done by the NHS in the next year. About half of those that are done will be sleeves. There is a mixture of reasons for the numbers being so few:
1) The NHS process of selection - STEP 1
You will need to persuade your GP (family doctor) to refer you to your local NHS weight loss service. This is always the first step and, if accepted onto a programme, you will begin after a waiting period. The course requires you to attend clinics for a period of 6 or 12 months during which time attempts will be made to help you change your diet and eating habits. This can be challenging because most patients have been trying to do this for years already. Your attendance at clinics and your weight loss results will determine whether you are referred to a surgeon for surgery to be considered. If you are, another process begins. If not, then you are off the list.
2) The NHS process of selection - STEP 2
If you are referred to a surgeon, you will meet the surgeon and your case will be considered by a multi-disciplinary team, including dietitians and psychologists as well as your surgeon. If you are accepted for surgery you will then be placed on a waiting list. These lists will often mean you are waiting more than 12 months for a procedure.
These problems are not the fault of the people in the NHS. They are highly professional and they want to do more cases. They are unable to do so however for two main reasons:
Increasing life expectancy - As people live longer, unfortunately they do not live more healthily. It means more beds in hospitals are occupied by the aged. These patients block beds that could be used for other purposes.
Budget limitations - The other problem is that there just isn’t enough money to do everything. The NHS has to prioritise where its resources are used. A&E units and cancer treatment are priorities and these use a lot of resource. There simply isn’t enough left to do everything that could be done. Each week new stories emerge about how Trusts are having to ration services in order to stay within budgets. It’s only fair to say as well, that even if the NHS budget was doubled, there would still be a limit to what it could do.
If you want to have a gastric sleeve you are likely to need to have it done privately. If you want to have it within the next 12 months and you are not already in an NHS weight loss programme, you’ll definitely need to have it done privately.
How does selection for a private sleeve differ from the process for an NHS procedure?
There are four key differences between going private and the NHS:
- You won’t have to wait. You can usually list for surgery within 2 weeks of your surgeon consultation. So, from your first call, you could have surgery within 3 weeks of your first call, assuming all is in order.
- You get to choose who does your sleeve operation. This is crucial as complication rates are surgeon dependent. You want to have your surgery with a high-volume sleeve surgeon who does more than 50 cases per year. Studies show that high volume surgeons get better outcomes.
- You get to choose where and when you have your surgery. Fit the surgery around your life.
- You will have to pay. There has to be a downside. You may decide however that the benefits of points 1, 2 and 3 above outweigh the cost though.
It’s fair to say that if you have your sleeve privately you could be at a healthy weight before you would even make it onto an NHS waiting list. The decision for you is whether you want to wait to achieve your weight loss goals and how much value you place on those extra years at a lower weight. It's also important to consider how much value you place on being given the freedom to choose your surgeon and hospital.
If you are interested in having a private gastric sleeve you can request a quotation today or call our team on 0800 073 1146. Our team of weight loss professionals are ready to answer your questions and to help you come to the decision that is best for you.
To determine if you are eligible for a gastric sleeve on the NHS, please consult your GP.
Are you eligible for a gastric sleeve?
To qualify for a gastric sleeve through the NHS you would need a BMI of 40+ or 35+ if you have a significant weight related co-morbidity. At Healthier Weight, if your weight is above 35 then you are likely to be eligible for a private gastric sleeve. Check your BMI here.
To determine if you are eligible for a private gastric sleeve with Healthier Weight, call for a free no obligation chat on 0800 313 4618
Funding your private gastric sleeve procedure
Many people require full or part finance to cover the cost of their gastric sleeve procedure and we offer a range of options to suit your requirements so price doesn't have to hold you back.