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BOMSS calls for delay to CCGs obesity services transfer
The British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) is leading calls for a delay to transfer control of commissioning weight loss surgery to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) by April 2015, claiming the plans are being pushed through too quickly and could impact on both patient care and access to cost-effective treatment.
The objections from BOMSS echo those of the NHS Clinical Commissioners (an independent membership organisation of CCGs), which has complained to NHS England about the proposals to transfer responsibility for morbid obesity services (and renal dialysis) to CCGs by April, saying they do not give CCGs time to plan effective services for patients.
“We share these concerns about the transfer of commissioning to CCGs so quickly and without any clear evidence that the change would result in improved patient care,” said Mr Richard Welbourn, President of BOMSS. “If the transfer of services is handed over in haste in just a few months we are worried that in the inevitable chaos that will result, surgery referrals will fall which will make access to effective treatment even more difficult for severely obese patients and may even threaten the viability of some NHS bariatric units”.
BOMSS is calling for the transfer of commissioning responsibility to be delayed for a year until April 2016 to allow enough time to introduce statutory safeguards which will protect morbidly obese patients from inequality of access to NHS treatment.
It wants NHS England to retain overall responsibility in a co-commissioning arrangement with CCGs from April 2015 to April 2016 and that commissioning practice during this transition period adheres strictly to current practice and the national service specification.
“We recognise that many have little sympathy for obese individuals getting bariatric surgery on the NHS and that prejudice against people who are severely overweight is widespread, but we have shown that bariatric surgery very quickly gives people their health back and actually reduces the national healthcare bill,” he added. “Any reduction in the NHS weight-loss surgery service would end up costing the taxpayer much more in other health costs as untreated patients consume huge amounts of NHS resource treating conditions such as diabetes and other serious disabilities caused by obesity.”