Piccadilly Pulse: Should weight loss surgery be available free on the NHS?

By Annabal Bagdi

Up to two million dangerously obese adults across England may be eligible for life-changing weight loss surgery, researchers say.

A study carried out by Imperial College London found that 5.4% of the population could qualify for bariatric surgery though fewer than 7000 adults opted for surgery in 2011.

Decreasing stomach size, bariatric surgery includes procedures such as the fitting of gastric bands and gastric bypass surgery.

Sufferers of obesity-related diseases with a BMI exceeding 40 or with a BMI between 35 and 40, are eligible for the surgery with the NHS.

Reducing obesity related ill-health, the surgical procedures can decrease chances of premature death from Type 2 Diabetes, stroke or coronary heart disease.

Despite the potential health benefits, researchers said the NHS could face financial knocks as greater investment into resources would be necessary to meet surgery demands.

Dr Sonia Saxena, of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London, said: “The NHS would be overwhelmed because there isn’t the resource to actually carry out this number of operations.

“If everyone who was eligible came forward there would most likely be a restriction because of funding and resource allocation at the local level.”

MM took to the streets to find out what the public thought about the NHS paying for obese people to have weight loss surgery.

Should weight loss surgery be available on the NHS?








Retired Manchester Airport security officer Ian Hunter, 74, from Tameside said: “A lot of people are fat because they eat too much.  I’m not overweight so it’s easy for me to say.  If it is life threatening it is their own fault.  There are too many food outlets, too much cheap rubbish food.  There are far more worthy causes.”

Jim Connolly, 53, a Stagecoach bus driver from Ashton-under-Lyne disagreed.  He said: “Everyone should be assessed.  It’s a human right although a lot of it is self-inflicted.”

University of Manchester student Ryan Battick, 20, from Rusholme said: “I think that everyone deserves a second chance.  You rarely hear about obesity and it is becoming a more common thing and they don’t know when they are obese.”

Retired teacher Tony Butcher, 64, from Stockport said: “It’s a lot of money.  Most of the money could be spent of educating people before they get to that stage.

“I know someone who had this and I would not recognise her.  She lost more than half the weight she was and seems a lot happier.”

Former clerical assistant, Jackie, 78, from Cheshire, praised the ‘marvellous work’ of the NHS following emergency treatment last December but raised concerns over the existing pressures the service faces.

She said: “I think that national health is absolutely stretched to the seams at the moment.  I really had first class treatment.  It’s been 110%, it really has been.”

Junior Esho, 18, a student at The Manchester College living in Moss Side, said: “It should be free, it’s something good that the NHS is doing.  We should be getting money free.”

Former Gorton care taker Mohamme Bakar, 47, agreed the surgery would help obese adults but added: “The government doesn’t take it as seriously as cancer, they ignore the nation.

”City centre builder George, 38, said: “If their life is at risk then they should be given it for free.  My sister is a nurse and she would probably say no.”

Yet, 22-year-old University of Manchester student Eni, from Deansgate, said: “Is it really necessary for the people getting it.  There are other ways they can lose weight if they really wanted to.”

Visitor to the city, freelance photographer Tom Bisiker, 26, from Leicester, said: “With some people it can be a mental problem and they can’t control it.”

Disbury resident Kirsten, 22, a student at the University of Manchester, said: “I suppose if there is no other option and you know you can get gastric band surgery you wouldn’t make as much effort. 

“The problem is getting people who are obese to go to the doctors.  There should be more promotion of healthy eating and lifestyle.”

Picture courtesy of FBellon, with thanks.

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