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

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