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Surgical provision

Ireland: 80,000 require bariatric surgery

Calls to increase provision as waiting list for surgery hits 24 months

An estimated 80,000 people are morbidly obese and require bariatric surgery in Ireland, the Irish Independent has reported.

According to the report, some 2% of the Irish population have a BMI>40. Dr Francis Finucane (Galway University Hospital), a consultant endocrinologist who specialises in obesity, has called for an increase in the number of bariatric procedures, a move which he believe would cut costs significantly.

"The prevalence of obesity in Ireland is pretty much the same as in England and the costs associated with it would be similar. We can't afford not to provide this intervention," he said.

A 2010 report in England concluded that providing bariatric surgery to 25% of those eligible would save the government £1.3bn (€1.56bn) over three years. This was achieved by patients returning to work and no longer claiming benefits, the paper reported.

Finucane believe such saving could be replicated in Ireland and has called for increased funding for the procedures.

There are currently only two public hospitals in Ireland that carry out bariatric surgery procedures: the national unit at St Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin; and Galway University Hospital. The latter performed 40 procedures in 2013.

He explained that weight loss surgery offers significant long-term cost savings by reducing long-term health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, and allowing patients to return to work.

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