People in Norfolk are being forced to seek private obesity treatment because the local NHS trust is refusing to foot the bill.
Some 20,000 people in the county meet National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines for surgery, having a body mass index (BMI) of between 35 and 40, but the Norfolk Primary Care Trust is so in debt that it is severely limiting the number of obesity surgeries that it performs.
In fact, according to the Norwich Evening News, Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge only has enough funding to perform around 60 gastric banding operations each year.
One Norfolk surgeon told the newspaper that many surgeons perform private operations and would love to be able to offer them on the NHS, but the health authorities will not permit it.
"I understand strategic health authorities and primary care trusts are struggling, but this needs to be made a priority," said Dr Michael Rhodes.
The surgeon warned that people who do not have the surgery could become even more dependent on the NHS in the long run.
"We are talking about problems with blood pressure, diabetes, hip and knee replacements and many more ailments associated with obesity which will cost the NHS more money," he revealed.
Nice has recently recommended that obesity surgery should be made available for children as young as 14 in extreme cases.
© Adfero Ltd
Obesity treatment news : 12/12/2006