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Bariatric surgery popular in Scotland

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More than a hundred gastric band operations were carried out in Scotland in the last two years, figures have revealed.

Out of the 14 health boards in Scotland some had seen more than 100 bariatric operations, one had not undertaken any and four referred patients to other parts of the country and other centres for procedures.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “There is a huge amount of money being spent on bariatric surgery and the equipment and facilities required to undertake it in the UK as a whole.

“It is a huge indictment on society that this has to be the case.

“Surgery removes 50% to 60% of the weight allowing people to take up their normal life after a procedure.

“There is a huge lag effect. Even if you did something dramatic for obesity now, you would still see patients still putting on the pounds because people generally do not listen to messages.”

He also suggested that patients who had had one of the operations should pay if they needed surgery at a later date as a result of “indulging themselves”.

Asked whether obese patients should contribute to the cost of bariatric surgery, Mr Fry said: “If there is a requirement for more surgery after a patient has already had a bariatric operation and it is as a result of them indulging themselves then that is something they should pay for.

“The NHS is not an open-ended cheque book. You have a bariatric procedure once then you behave.”

NHS Grampian said 89 bariatric surgery procedures were carried out on patients aged 18 and over between January 1 2008 and March 31 this year.

The health board said information on whether the procedures included laparoscopic gastric banding and, if so, how many, were not “routinely recorded”.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said they had recorded 198 patients aged 22 and above being discharged after bariatric surgery since 2008, including 92 who had laparoscopic gastric banding.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran said out of 68 patients who had bariatric surgery since 2008, 31 included laparoscopic gastric banding.

NHS Lanarkshire said 24 laparoscopic gastric banding procedures were carried out on adult patients since 2008.

Since 2009 the health board said there were also 41 balloon procedures - where a soft, silicone sack is inserted in the stomach so that the patient eats less before they feel “full”.

The balloon stays in place for six months to help the patient learn the habits of healthy eating, and kick-start weight loss, with the help of specialist dieticians.

NHS Lanarkshire said “five or fewer” balloon procedures were also carried out in 2008 but the exact number could not be released in case it identified a patient.

The health board said: “Surgical intervention for bariatric patients within Lanarkshire is only considered if the patient, following multi disciplinary assessment, meets the agreed criteria for surgery. Bariatric surgery must be seen as a small part of a comprehensive weight management programme.

“The use of surgical intervention is only considered in a very limited number of cases for the management of morbid obesity and where it is judged to be clinically appropriate to do so.”

A total of 11 patients within NHS Dumfries and Galloway have undergone bariatric surgery procedure since 2008 and all of the procedures were by laparoscopic gastric bypass.

NHS Lothian said 70 bariatric surgery procedures were carried out between 2008 and 2010.

NHS Tayside said “fewer than five” bariatric surgery procedures have been carried out since 2008 on patients aged 18 and upwards and fewer than five laparoscopic gastric banding procedures were carried out.

NHS Fife said there were a “small number” of procedures undertaken.

No further information was released to prevent identification of patients.

NHS Western Isles said no bariatric procedures had been carried out since January 2008.

The information was released following a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association to all 14 health boards in Scotland.

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