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Access to surgery

Scotland to increase bariatric surgery procedures in 2011

Majority of Scottish health boards do not offer bariatric surgery

Following the announcement in February 2010 that Scottish ministers were to tackle the country's obesity ‘time bomb’, extra operations are to be offered at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank near Glasgow. 


Current National Health Service guidelines state that anyone who is so overweight that their life is at risk should be offered bariatric surgery. However, the amount of people requiring surgery far outstrips current resources. In 2009, more than 250 people were referred for bariatric surgery, but only 165 operations were carried out. The majority of Scottish health boards do not offer bariatric surgery and the few that do often say they are overwhelmed by demand. 


The Golden Jubilee Hospital has announced that it is to start performing gastric band operations, with a total of 60 procedures carried out next year for patients from the west of Scotland although health boards anywhere in Scotland will be able to refer patients in future. 


Obesity ‘time bomb’


Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Obesity currently costs Scotland over £457m a year. If we do not address this epidemic now it is estimated that this figure could reach over £3bn a year by 2030. Surgery for obesity is rare and the Scottish government's focus is on preventing people becoming obese in the first place. However this new service at the Golden Jubilee will ensure that for those who need it treatment is available.”


In February, Scottish ministers announced plans to work with the food industry, business and schools to try to tackle Scotland's obesity ‘time bomb’. The move came after a report suggested 40% of the population could be classed as obese by 2030. 


Strategy


The strategy set out plans to work with the food industry to control exposure to high calorie drinks and foods. It suggested removing sweets from the till point in shops and increasing the range of healthier choices in convenience stores. Another aim is to help businesses to encourage their staff to eat healthily and be more active, and to work with schools to promote healthy habits. 


Tam Fry

However, Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum said the root causes of the problem need to be addressed. “We have too much food now on the supermarket shelves which is too high in salt and fat and sugar. Until that comes down to reasonable levels I think the average housewife going to do her shopping will be picking up stuff which is not altogether healthy and if they pick up that kind of food then the problem of obesity will persist.”

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