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A faulty production line

‘They say obesity is a priority but clearly it is not’

An award-winning weight management service in Rotherham has been completely cut as a result of slashed public health budgets

3x2 matt capehorn

Since 2009, the Rotherham Institute for Obesity has provided a range of weight management services for NHS patients.

We had a comprehensive, four-tier service that cost less than £1m a year, that won awards and was highlighted by NICE and the Department of Health.

But in 2015, services began to be cut back, starting with a specialist children’s weight management programme.

Then in 2016, our public health department at the local authority held their hands up and said we can’t balance the books and we need to find £2m of savings and some of that will come out of the public health budget.

We had overwhelming support from patients, the local press and MPs, but this feedback appeared to count for nothing and with three months’ notice our service was decommissioned completely.

Now there is nothing. GPs are now expected to assess and manage all patients except those with very severe obesity.

And we have seen that more patients are being referred inappropriately for surgery before they are ready or have had the opportunity to try other options, such as weight loss drugs and talking therapies, which goes against the guidelines.

The experts and Public Health England all say obesity should be a priority but it clearly is not

Dr Matt Capehorn is a GP in Rotherham and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum

Readers' comments (3)

  • Maybe, painful as it may seem that it is time to stop "medicalising" obesity.
    Why should the NHS be involved in "Treating" a condition of indulgence and simple lack of self control? The only reason you gain weight is continual calorie excess over output.
    Surely the onus is on the person to change. Weight watchers, Slimming world offer excellent service to those with a commitment to change. Although i can fully understand a co-morbidity argument, medicalising this issue just ends up shifting the blame to a health professional to manage a personal problem and lifestyle. (i'm obese so who's to blame attitude)
    Maybe withdrawal of a service is actually a recognition of this.
    By contrast once you have undertaken to bypass someones gut you certainly do have an ongoing commitment to manage them.
    Tax the fat and subsidise the fruit and jogging trainers but keep "Treating" it out of the NHS

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  • Com'on, have we just realised that what they say is not what is practiced on the ground?

    A bit like what a great ad wonderful health system we are, but we are all rushed off our feet to stand still,etc,etc!

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  • Dear All,
    Thank heavens they saw the light and cut the service, did it ever actually achieve any persisting weight reduction? Weight watchers is the evidence based best service and works because people who want to loose weight go along for support. it works for the motivated. otherwise you are wasting your and the NHS's time and money.
    Time to "Go double OO" and Ostracise Obesity.
    Paul C

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