NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG Looking to Ban Bariatric Surgery

GPs in NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG could face a complete ban on routine referrals for weight-loss surgery.

This measure is currently out for public consultation, but the trust is already examining the possibility of only funding bariatric surgery in exceptional circumstances.

Basildon and Brentwood CCG has already implemented a service reflection and policy review, with the aim of withdrawing or restricting a wide range of services intended at tackling a £14 million deficit.

The clinical commissioning group will instead place an emphasis on healthier diets and lifestyles as an alternative to surgery.

NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG commented on its website: that “As part of a wider review into service restrictions Basildon and Brentwood CCG is proposing not to fund weight loss surgery: gastric band; gastric bypass; sleeve gastrectomy”.

The CCG also indicated its intention to enter into dialogue with other authorities in delivering the policy.

“We will consult on not providing this service to the population and instead work with Public Health to promote healthier lifestyles and tackle obesity rather than managing the problem once it occurs’. It said that ‘through working with Public Health and our providers to support people to better manage their conditions and engage and participate in improving their wellbeing the need for bariatric surgery should decrease whilst outcomes for patients should improve”.

It added that “where there is a pressing clinical need, cases will be considered on an exceptional basis”.

A spokesperson for the CCF commented that consultations are taking place on the subject alongside several other suggested measures.

“Any decision on eligibility or provision of bariatric surgery is now determined at a CCG level. As part of our Fit for the Future consultation, Basildon and Brentwood CCG is currently consulting on whether we will continue to commission bariatric surgery (alongside a number of other proposed changes)”.

Essex LMC chief executive, Dr Brian Balmer, believes that the decision is based on a certain lapse of logic.

“Some would say it makes more economic sense to fund it. It’s no secret the health service in Essex is in dire straits and very very short of money, and the NHS are desperately trying to fix it, allegedly through efficiency.”

Professor David Haslam, GP and chair of the National Obesity Forum, was naturally opposed to the policy.

“This is what we feared when commissioning for tier 4 was passed over to CCGs, as bariatric surgery is poorly understood by many CCGs, and neither the beneficial health, nor economic consequences are being considered. Bariatric surgery is intended for the severe and complex obese population, for whom prevention is a little late, and the only hope of regaining health and quality of life is a sleeve gastrectomy or bypass.”

Haslam also cited evidence which suggested that the consultation over the removal of bariatric surgery makes little economic sense.

“While NHS England has funded the surgery ‘we have been able to make a lot of progress, reversing diabetes and sleep apnoea, which will have saved the NHS a fortune. What we are fearing will happen is there might now be a domino effect with a reduction in commissioning”.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Decisions when prioritising resources are always very difficult for commissioners but it is up to CCGs to make the best decisions for their area.’


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