150 on waiting list for gastric band surgery
THERE are now 150 people on the waiting list for gastric band surgery at a Dublin hospital.
The surgery is used as a means of helping patients who are at the more extreme end of the obesity scale to lose weight.
However funding issues are contributing to huge delays for patients awaiting the surgery, with only two or three operations being performed a month.
Procedures are carried out at St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown.
Professor Donal O'Shea, a consultant in endocrinology and diabetes, has expressed concern about the health implications for those chronically-obese patients on the waiting list.
"We are finding that some people have gone away and have had it done abroad," he said in an article in this week's Irish Medical Times.
However Professor O'Shea, who is a consultant at St Columcille's and St Vincent's University Hospital, pointed out that it was "costing them €15,000 to €20,000 for a treatment that should be available to them within the Irish health system."
It is believed that in the future, Ireland will have to do 450 gastric band surgeries a year.
Studies have shown that the overall mortality for the patient group undergoing gastric band surgery is reduced by about 60pc.
The HSE has stated that weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, has been found to be an effective treatment for some obese people.
However, it warned that it is only available if a person's obesity is affecting their health and other treatment options have been tried and have not worked.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK recommends that weight loss surgery should only be offered if a person has a BMI of 40 or more, or have serious obesity-related illnesses.
It also said that those undergoing surgery should agree to commit to long-term follow-up treatment after the procedure at a specialised obesity service, and patients must be fit and healthy enough to withstand the anaesthetic and the surgery.
UK television presenter Fern Britton has had a gastric band fitted. She said subsequently that she was very pleased with the results of the procedure.