Obesity weight loss programme ‘tightened up’

Obese people who need surgery to help them cut weight will have to spend at least six months on a 'tightened up' NHS weight loss programme before being considered.

Obese people who need surgery to help them cut weight will have to spend at least six months on a ‘tightened up’ NHS weight loss programme before being considered.

Tameside’s strategic commissioning board has agreed to procure a new weight loss service that will have a greater focus on healthy living and cutting down on weight.

The authority pays £241,000 a year into the current service which is led by Salford Royal, however this not expected to increase.

The tiered service is divided into four – with the top tier reserved for those people who require bariatric surgery, such as a gastric band, to stop them being obese.

The third tier is the final step before surgery – and includes psychological support, physical activity, guided weight loss advice and prescribing anti-obesity drugs, if necessary.

It currently is taken up by around 240 patients a year in Tameside.

Dr Jamie Douglas, who is a GP in Ashton-under-Lyne told the meeting that obesity was a widespread problem in the borough.

“Two thirds of people are overweight in Tameside, it’s a big problem for us and we’re a significantly statistical outlier,” he said.

“It’s such a big issue and has such major health implications around type two diabetes, around cancer, that actually this has to become the core business for general practice.

“We direct 200 odd people into our specialist service but there are a lot more people who need our help.”

Residents qualify for ‘level three’ if they have a BMI of 40 or above, but for women who are pregnant or people with additional heath conditions, this is reduced to around 30.

At level three, clinicians will also offer a bariatric referral assessment if required, following a minimum of six months attendance at the service.

While the new specialist service is not going to be more expensive, bosses say it has the potential to reduce costs by helping less people require more costly weight loss operations.

And it’s hoped a strengthened earlier intervention will reduce patients’ risk of developing other conditions, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Interim director of commissioning, Jessica Williams told members: “It’s the same price but this procurement should enable us to have a greater use of digital technology and community support.

“And should a patient not benefit from this weight tier three they wouldn’t then progress onto the bariatric surgery unless there was special circumstances.

“Bariatric surgery is usually a band or a bypass in the stomach.

“But it’s invasive, it’s risky and therefore it’s advisable that it’s the last resort and every aspect of improving your living, reducing weight, is attempted first.”

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