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Obese patients increasing costs for NHS trusts

9 April 2009

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Figures show that one in six NHS trusts have spent seven times more on obesity in the past three years as the demand for specialist equipment has increased.

According to data obtained from 60 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act, obese patients having stomach surgery and the need for larger examination beds have caused costs for PCTs to rocket.

The news comes after figures from the NHS Information Centre published in February showed that the number of weight-loss stomach procedures had increased 40% in a year.

The most recent figures show that 48% more patients are being treated for obesity than three years ago, and 16% of PCTs have purchased equipment specially designed for obese patients, pushing their budgets seven times higher over the past three years.

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Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said that PCTs are refusing surgical procedures to obese patients in an attempt to cut costs, rather than patients failing to meet criteria laid down by the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence.

He said: “PCTs are delighted to find any excuse to turn down bariatric surgery, despite the fact that it is among the most clinically effective, and cost-effective procedure.”

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