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NHS spending on obesity-related equipment increases 700%

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Spending on obesity-related equipment and treatment in the NHS in England has increased seven-fold in three years, according to official figures.

Specialist equipment, treatment and high demand for life-saving surgery has seen crippling costs soar at around one in six trusts.

New figures from the NHS information centre have highlighted the growing threat of obesity, with hospital admissions for the condition increasing by almost 700% in 10 years.

Weigh loss stomach surgery, such as staples and gastric bypasses, has rocketed by 40% in a year while the number of patients seeking help for obesity topped 5,000 last year - up 30% on the year before.

Budgets for obese patients have been increased seven-fold at 16% of primary care trusts, while a further 16% said they had been forced to buy specialist equipment for overweight people such as oversized treatment couches, scales and blood pressure cuffs.

However, Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said that requests for obesity-related surgery were still being turned down not because patients were failing to meet the necessary criteria but because of the costs involved.

He said: ‘PCTs are delighted to find any excuse to turn down surgery, despite the fact that it is among the most clinically effective, and cost effective procedures in any field of medicine.’

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