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Nurses should treat obese patients with 'more respect'

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A US model of treating obese patients with “respect” should be rolled out across the UK, say nurses who have spent time studying the approach.

Julie Meredith told Nursing Times the “Respect” model – in which US nurses are trained to be non-judgemental about the patient’s condition – would help treatment in the UK.

She and Jane Wallace, who practice at the independent Benenden Hospital in Kent visited the Magee’s Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, which specialises in weight loss surgery and treatment for obese patients.

During the three week trip, they followed the patients through each hospital department and worked closely with pharmacists, clinicians, expert surgeons and fellow nurses.

Ms Meredith said: “Obese patients are some of the most discriminated against.

“In the US, there is the ‘Respect’ model, which they teach to their nurses there and we have tried to bring that over. This could be rolled out across the country.

“Research has shown that we are very judgemental about patients that are obese. It is a very complex disease when people get bigger BMIs, and it is not just a case of ‘go on a diet’.”

She added the US, which has a significant obesity problem, tends to see “surgery for obesity as a more medical procedure”, rather than a cosmetic one, as is the case in the UK.

“This is interesting in light of the recommendations made by the Royal College of Surgeons in the National Obesity Forum, who are saying we should actually do more surgery here,” she said. 

Ms Wallace, a sister at the Benenden Hospital, said the visit “has meant we’ve built a good relationship with the medical staff in Pittsburgh that we hope is the start of a long lasting partnership, leading to further visits and exchange trips between both hospitals”.

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