NHS trusts are being overwhelmed by referrals for obesity surgery to the extent where more than half of consultants are rejecting new patients, it has emerged.
Obesity surgery is becoming an increasingly popular way of tackling morbid obesity, either by physically reducing the size of the stomach or limiting the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed by the body.
An investigation by medical weekly Pulse found that trusts are placing caps on referral for obesity surgery, and many require patients to have a BMI in excess of that set out in guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
According to the investigation findings, there has been a 650 per cent rise in the number of referrals for obesity surgery over the past five years, but underfunding means that trusts are unable to deal with the demand.
However, Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, told Pulse that restricting obesity surgery on the grounds of cost is a "completely false economy".
"To limit it on the grounds of cost is disgraceful," he claimed. "Some PCTs refuse altogether, others take ten or 20 procedures and no more. People will be dropping down dead because of it."