Skip to main content

Laparoscopic bariatric surgery in England

A study by Elaine Burns and colleagues published in the BMJ describes the large increase in NHS laparoscopic bariatric surgery operations observed in recent years, with an increase from 238 operations in 2000 to 2543 in 2007. Recent years have also seen large increases in NHS prescribing and spending on drugs for obesity. For example, a study published in the Journal of Public Health Medicine reported that between 1998 and 2005, Orlistat prescriptions in England rose 36-fold from 17,880 to 646,700 and their total cost increased by over 35-fold to £27 million. Sibutramine prescriptions rose from 53,393 in 2001 to around 227,000 in 2005, a 4-fold increase, at a cost of £11 million in 2005.Despite this increased spending on medical and surgical NHS interventions, rates of obesity continue to increase inexorably and around 25% of adults in England are now considered to be obese, with a BMI of 30 or greater.The failure of medical treatments for obesity is further illustrated by the subsequent withdrawal of Rimonabant and Sibutramine because of concerns about their safety. Although medical and surgical treatments have an important role in the management of obesity, particularly in some high risk groups, the key to tackling obesity lies in wider societal approaches, involving joint working between the NHS, local and national government, and the private sector.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Can GPs issue private prescriptions to NHS patients?

The NHS prescription charge in England is currently £8.60 per item. At this level, many commonly prescribed drugs will cost less than the prescription charge and so some NHS patients may occasionally ask if they can have a private prescription rather than an NHS prescription.

In the past, some GPs have been advised that they could issue both an NHS FP10 and a private prescription, and let the patient decide which to use. But the British Medical Association's General Practice Committee has obtained legal advice that said under the current primary care contract, GPs in England may not issue a private prescription alongside or as an alternative to an NHS FP10 prescription. In any consultation where a GP needs to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription would be a breach of NHS regulations.

The issuing of a private prescription in such circumstances could also be seen as an attempt to deprive the NHS of the funds it would receive from the prescription charge. Fur…

What will Brexit mean for the NHS?

On the 29 March 2017, the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May, formally notified the European Union (EU) Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk triggers a two-year process during which the UK will have to negotiate both the terms of its exit from EU and the arrangements that will replace those we have had for over 40 years with the other member states of the EU. The consequences of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU (commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’) will be wide-ranging and will affect all areas of UK’s society, including the National Health Service (NHS).

For the NHS, Brexit comes at a time when it faces many other major challenges. These include severe financial pressures, rising workload, increased waiting times for both primary care and specialist services, and shortages of health professionals in many key areas (such as in general practice and in emergency departments). The NHS also faces challenges fr…

Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, Speaks about AI in Healthcare

On 28 September 2017, I attended the Annual Institute of Global Health Innovation Lecture: Artificial General Intelligence and Healthcare, delivered by Dr Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines smart argued Dr Hassabis, so how can we make it improve the healthcare sector? Dr Hassabis then went on to describe the work that DeepMind was carrying out in healthcare in areas such as organising information, deep learning to support the reporting of medical images (such as scans and pathology slides), and biomedical science. Dr Hassabis also discussed the challenges of applying techniques such as reinforcement learning in healthcare. He concluded that artificial intelligence has great scope for improving healthcare; for example, by prioritising the tasks that clinicians had to carry out and by providing decision support aids for both patients and doctors. Dr Hassabis also discussed some of the ethical issues in using …