NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
It’s a government body that sets the eligibility criteria for drugs and medical procedures in the UK. In addition to setting criteria for surgical procedures such as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve, they provide the guidance that applies to all treatments, including fertility and new cancer treatments as examples.
Although they only provide guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules, it is unusual for the NHS, or commissioning groups, to operate outside of their guidelines. In fact, where weight loss surgery is concerned it is more likely that local hospital Trusts and Commissioning groups will apply much more stringent criteria. This is because there are insufficient resources to treat all of the patients who are eligible.
For weight loss surgery, the NICE guidelines are that the following people are eligible for NHS surgery:
- A body mass index (BMI) above 40 – BMI Checker
- A BMI above 35 when accompanied by a serious weight related co-morbidity (illness or disease) such as Type 2 Diabetes
If you have a question about the NICE guidelines and whether a private or NHS procedure would be a possibility for you, please call our team on 0800 313 4618 or use our enquiry form.
The criteria above only apply when it is demonstrated that other weight loss methods have been tried and failed. In practice, that means that all people hoping to have weight loss surgery in the NHS will first need to complete an NHS weight loss programme that is run through their local NHS Hospital Trust. It usually runs for a minimum of 6 months and requires people to attend regularly and keep appointments.
In order to get onto this programme you will need the support of your GP as a referral from your GP will be required.
Once the course is completed, potential patients will be referred to a surgeon. There will usually be a long waiting list before being seen by the surgeon. There is also a requirement for your case to be reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team including dietitians, psychologists and anaesthetists. From the time you complete the weight loss programme (known as Tier 3), it can take 18 months or more before surgery will be scheduled.