Patients diagnosed with obesity-linked diabetes need to be assessed for weight loss surgery quickly, according to updated NHS guidelines.
The guidelines have been updated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who suggest that it is good for patients and will save money for the NHS.
NICE recommend that the NHS should triple the number of weight loss surgeries performed every year, by lowering the threshold at which patients are eligible for the operation. Anybody who is classified as obese, or recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or a weight-related illness could be considered.
Theoretically, this would raise the number of patients eligible for weight loss surgery to around two million.
It is highly unlikely that all two million eligible patients would be given the surgery: it costs the NHS £6,000 in total, but the new guidelines do suggest a development in the NHS’s approach to weight loss surgery.
Such operations have been shown to improve conditions linked to obesity, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
It remains controversial: critics say that the surgery cannot and should not replace improvements to diet and increasing one’s level of exercise. Rather than an alternative to such measures, they argue, it should remain a “last resort.”
In addition, the new guidelines state that patients considered for the surgery should have already undergone a medical weight loss programme.
Professor John Wilding, consultant physician in diabetes at University of Liverpool and Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “These procedures are very effective. For more severely obese patients they are the only treatments that have a very good chance of people losing good amounts of weight and keeping that weight off long-term.
“If you’ve got type 2 diabetes diagnosed within the last ten years it is a very effective way of reducing blood glucose, independent of weight loss, because of the change in the anatomy of the gut. When you look at net cost to the NHS over a period of time, not in the one year they had the operatio, it becomes a really cost-effective intervention and may even in some instance bring a cost-saving.”

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