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'Inflexible' NHS England refuses to amend surgery criteria

'Inflexible' NHS England refuses to amend surgery criteria

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Failures in local provision are leaving some obese patients unable to access essential support services. 

Before obese patients are considered for surgery, they must first be given appropriate services to control their weight. 

But a guidance note recently published by NHS England claims that there is currently "variable" access to locally commissioned services. 

However, the note states that NHS England will not amend the referral criteria for surgery at this time. 

Dr Steve Kell, chair of Bassetlaw clinical commissioning group and co-chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners Leadership Group has called on NHS England to show some "imagination and flexibility" so that patients can be referred for bariatric surgery where clinically necessary. 

He said: "It is important that patients have access to dieticians, exercise programmes and psychological input where needed, but pathways should include surgery as an option when indicated.

“Inflexible specialised commissioning policies that don't take into account national variation and a failure to be flexible has resulted inconsistent provision for patients.

“Local Government, as the commissioners of these vital Tier 3 services have inherited a situation which is not of their making but while it will take time it is essential these vital specialist obesity service weight loss programmes are available in all areas of England.

“Our patients are being let down by the disconnects in provision, we need urgent action to sort this out so we can ensure the wellbeing of those who are our responsibility.”

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