Since there has been a boost in funding for the NHS, there will be more people that will be able to have weight loss surgery, to conquer the ever growing problem with obesity. Surgeries such as gastric bypass surgery is expected to double this year alone. With additional funding, the nation may see specialists dealing with morbid obesity, in such areas as Bridgend and Swansea.
However, Welsh patients have seen £520,000 on weight loss surgery in the past two years. Of these operations, most have taken place in Salford and Bristol. Through the Freedom of Information request, only 10% of patients referred for weight loss surgery that were from Wales actually received NHS funding in the last two years.
A prominent and leading bariatric surgeon has stated that he has had patients die, because the waiting list was long and he was never able to perform the surgery. Statistics by the WHSSC show that of 1,044 patients that have been referred to a clinic surgery, only 126 patients were approved. These numbers could also be lower because some patients would have been not physically and/or psychologically suitable to have the surgery.
The director of WHSSC’s specialized services department says that weight loss surgery is low on the priority list. This is in comparison to medical treatments, such as renal dialysis and cancer services that take priority. Which she says means that coverage for the morbidly obese is only for the most sever cases where patients had another medical conditions due to their obesity.
What this means is that people in Wales with a BMI of 50 or more are considered for operations. However, England considers patients with a BMI of 40 or more. The chairman of the National Obesity Forum Wales questions why the criteria for obese people is different between England and Wales. He asks why do people with a BMI of 40 or higher receive treatment in England, while a BMI of 50 or higher is needed in Wales. He states that Wales does not handle obesity properly and there is a high morbidly obese rate in Wales compared to the rest of the Western world.
The WHSSC is evaluating proposals from South Wales and hopes that new services will see at least 80 patients receive surgery at the Princess Of Wales Hospital, Bridgend in 12 months.