Obese residents face long waits for surgery in British Colombia

January 11th, 2011
Obese residents face long waits for surgery in British Colombia

Jake Carte, a twenty-six year old from Saanich, British Colombia, weights more than five hundred pounds. He is officially in “the super morbid obesity” class, and has spent the last few days in hospital due to weight related complications.

‘I ended up in hospital because I was having lots of trouble breathing,’ Carte was quoted as saying from his hospital bed. ‘It’s going to be a while before I can walk.’ Jake was admitted to the intensive care unit a day before he was to see Dr Brad Amson, a weight-loss specialist. He now doesn’t know how long it will be before he can see somebody.

Longer waiting lists have emerged in British Colombia due to a hefty reduction to the amount of bariatric surgeries by the British Colombia public health system.

Founding member of the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons, Dr Daniel Birch was quoted as stating: ‘It’s absolutely devastating and I’d really like to hear an explanation from the people that made those decisions. I think they should answer to the physicians and surgeons in B.C. who have asked for help, and to the patients who have asked to manage this issue and disease. The problem is at higher level – administrations, surgical leadership and politics – that’s where we’re hitting the roadblocks.’

According to the British Colombia Ministry of Health, the waiting lists to see bariatric surgeons can vary between eighteen months and two years. However, these times have been dismissed by Ron Merk, a spokesman for Weight Loss and Surgery (WL&S), who claims the wait to see a specialist is closer to six years.

A study performed and published by the Canadian Journal of Surgery in 2009 stated that, “the only permanent treatment for severe or morbid obesity is bariatric surgery.”

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