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York Hospital's £600,000 bill for gastric operations ‘worth every penny’
YORK Hospital has carried out more than 100 gastric weight-loss operations at a cost of almost £600,000 since the beginning of last year.
Seventy-one people were given weight loss surgery at the hospital in 2012 and 31 between January and August this year, at a cost of £585,508.
Bariatric operations – which reduce the size of the stomach or bypass it so patients consume fewer calories – can be given to morbidly obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above.
Patients must have been on a local specialist obesity service weight loss programme for six months to two years to be eligible, NHS guidelines state.
A spokesperson for NHS England, which commissions the surgery, said: “Bariatric surgery is a highly specialised procedure and should only be considered for selected patients with severe and complex obesity where the full range of other weight management approaches have been tried, with expert support, but have not been successful.”
They said it was cost effective in reducing BMI and illnesses more likely to be associated with obesity such as heart disease and diabetes.
The number of people having the operation has dropped slightly after rising in York. Ninety one people from York and North Yorkshire had weight loss surgery at the hospital in 2010/11 and 89 in 2011/12, at a cost of £958,702 to the NHS.
The number of bariatric operations rose from 42 patients in 2008/09 to 103 in 2009/10.
The operation can be risky. In 2009, 30-year-old York mum Kerry Greaves, of Tang Hall, died from problems following gastric bypass surgery.
She had the operation after becoming worried that her size may lead to her daughter being teased.
Prof David Haslam, of the National Obesity Forum, said the operation has a proven success rate which saves the NHS money.
He said: “They are life saving operations in many cases. Each operation pays for itself in a couple of years.
“It’s one of the most cost effective and clinically effective procedures in any field of medicine.”
A spokesperson for York Hospital’s Trust said the surgery was not suitable for everyone and should not be seen as an easy option.
SPENCER Green, who has lost almost 17 stone following gastric band surgery at York Hospital, says the operation saved his life.
In 2009, Mr Green weighed almost 33 stone and had been diagnosed with type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, had to wear an oxygen mask in bed due to sleep apnoea and could not drive for more than half an hour without resting.
Repeated attempts to lose weight through exercise and dieting failed, so when he started to have related health problems, it seemed weight loss surgery was the only option.
Mr Green said: “I would never change what I have done. I would have been dead four years ago if it had not been for the operation.
“Individual health is paramount and everybody has issues, whether it is smoking or drinking.”
Mr Green, now 46, underwent the operation in April 2010. He is now about 16st and half his former body mass index.
Mr Green, who works in IT at Clifton Moor in York and lives in Pickering, said he had long had a problem with food, but said the weight began to pile on when he took a sedentary job in logistics.
He said he now has a very active life and regularly attends the gym.
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