Saturday, July 12, 2014

UK Health Radio Medical News Update - More People eligibel for Bariatric Surgery

UK Health Radio Medical News Update
The BBC has reported that there are plans to expand weight loss surgery in England in an effort to to tackle an epidemic of type 2 diabetes which is a huge drain on the NHS resources.  Diabetes UK have said that the new guide lines released by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, could see an estimated 850,000 people eligible for surgery while NICE itself expect the figure to be in the tens of thousands.   Type 2 diabetes has close links to obesity and lifestyle choices.  Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to blindness, nerve damage and amputation.
There is now increasing evidence to suggest that gastric bypass will improve symptoms in some 60% of patients. Currently about one tenth of the NHS budget is spent on treating patients with diabetes.
However this kind of weight loss surgery can cost up to about £15,000 and the move towards this kind of management by NICE has given rise to concerns as to how the NHS will be able to afford the treatment, even if there will be long term savings.  Presently guidance says that surgery should be an option for those whose BMI is above 35 and who are suffering from additional health issues but the new guidelines would suggest that people with a BMI of 30 should be offered weight loss (bariatric surgery) and that would inevitably make many more people eligible for the surgery.  In practice under the new guidleines a man who is 6ft (1.83m) tall and weighs 18st 6lb (117kg) would be sent for an assessment, and doctors would be expected to consider sending a 5ft 5in (1.65m) woman, weighing 12st 10lb (80.7kg), for assessment as well.
But NICE's Prof Mark Baker, who drafted the guidelines, said it was "ridiculous" to think that almost double the number of people would be operated on under the new guidelines and told the BBC that "The first line of attack would be diet and exercise."  But as that message is clearly not getting through to enough people, could bariatric surgery become as common as tonsillectomy once was?

Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio Medical News Update
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