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Moves to cut restrictions for obesity surgery are welcomed
5:00pm Friday 21st September 2012 in News
OBESITY groups have welcomed a decision by health chiefs to change their stance on weight loss surgery in the town.
At a meeting last week Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group ,which looks after the town’s healthcare, agreed to lower the requirements for free obese weight loss surgery to meet national guidelines.
Cost-cutting measures in 2010 had seen thresholds introduced for surgery which were higher than neighbouring health bodies and national guidance.
But reports presented to CCG members said surgery on morbidly obese patients can increase life expectancy and reduce future health problems.
A ‘normal’ body mass index (BMI), according to health charities, is 18.5 to 25 and is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by height.
In the past two years priority for surgery was only given to adults in the town who scored 60 or 55, if also suffering from a life-threatening illness and after going through a weight management programme.
NICE guidance states surgery should be given to patients with a BMI of 40 to 50 or 35 to 40 if they have other conditions caused by being overweight.
Warrington CCG had 32 funding requests for surgery in 2011/12 but only approved 13 compared to 58 requests in 2009/10 with 46 being successful.
Sarah Baker, accountable officer, said: “The guidance was not as clear, especially with weight loss surgery and the context is now significantly different.”
The governing body added population projections and financial implications of the decision will form part of next year’s planning.
Ken Clare, founder and chairman of the country’s largest support group Weight Loss Surgery Information and Support, said he was delighted.
He added: “It is a great step towards ending the postcode lottery that all residents will be considered for weight loss surgery on the basis of the NICE guidelines.”