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‘More weight-loss surgery needed to combat diabetes’…
MORE than 2,000 Jersey Islanders would be eligible for drastic weight-loss surgery if the Island followed official National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, according to Jersey’s leading diabetes expert.
However, the surgery costs around £8,000 per person and currently the Health Department only has funding for 12 such operations annually.
Hospital consultant Dr. Peter Bates, who supports the NICE guidelines and says that drastic weight-loss increases the chances of overweight diabetics going into remission, says that almost £100,000 is being spent every year by the Health Department to pay for a weight-loss surgery.
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However, there are still 168 Islanders, all deemed as being at significant risk of a serious medical condition, currently on the waiting list for the operation, which is carried out in the UK.
Dr. Bates estimates that more than 2,000 people could be eligible for the surgery if the NICE guidelines were followed.
He said: ‘It costs the department money in the long run if we don’t provide this surgery. There is a lot of prejudice against surgery but there is strong evidence to show it is highly effective.’
In 2014 NICE updated its recommendations and said that weight-loss surgery was the best and most cost-effective method of treating certain cases of type 2 diabetes.
According to the guidelines, anyone who has a body mass index of 35 or over and has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or is at risk of a serious medical condition should be considered for bariatric surgery, with one of the most common procedures being a gastric band.
Since 2006 Jersey’s Health Department has been set a budget, which has not changed since, for Island patients to have the surgery at no cost to the patient.
There are currently an estimated 3,600 people living with diabetes in Jersey and that number is predicted to increase to between 6,000 and 8,000 by 2030.
Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and tends to be diagnosed in people later in life. According to figures in the UK, the remission rate for diabetics after weight-loss surgery is between 50 and 90 percent within two years.
Dr. Bates said: ‘The only reliable way to get people to lose between four and six stone is with weight-loss surgery.
‘It is really difficult for a lot of people to lose a lot of weight according to the obesity statistics in 2014. In most cases morbidly obese people are not greedy with no disregard for their health – they have been driven by their environment and have a biological defect to fight back against.’
He added: ‘Most people are quite scared about having surgery. Some people can live with 30 years of misery to then come to the conclusion that they are not going to be able to sustain their weight without getting help. They could have lived a very different 30 years had they had weight-loss surgery sooner.
‘We offer surgery to those who are at a significant risk of having some kind of serious medical condition and are likely to go into remission after surgery.’
Meanwhile, the Health Department has just started funding a pilot scheme for adjustable gastric band surgery
in two GP surgeries where doctors are providing regular check-ups for diabetics and gastric surgery for weight loss.
Dr. Bates says he hopes the gastric surgery scheme will replace a single appointment at Overdale, where the service is struggling to cope with the number of people needing to be seen due to the gastric sleeve
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