NHS Weight loss surgery - obesity surgery on the NHS

Funding for surgery (which includes obesity surgery) is handled jointly by your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) and hospital (NHS Trust). They have a contractual agreement in that they allocate different amounts of funding to a wide range of procedures. Unfortunately, there are competing demands on this funding which means that there are winners and losers when it comes to paying for treatment.

NICE has published guidelines which recommend that obesity surgery be made available to all PCTs. If, for some reason your PCT does not provide funding for this surgery then you can ask to be referred to a hospital which does offer this service, in another area. If this is the case your GP will have to ask for permission to refer you ‘out of the area’. You will need to check with the PCT in that area what their funding criteria are.

You do not usually have a choice in regard to type of hospital and surgeon. If your GP finds a surgeon and hospital who can undertake this surgery then you will have to go there for treatment. If this out of your local area then it is again, a case for that area’s PCT.

If you opt for private treatment then you have unlimited choice.

What tends to be problematic with this is that obesity is not a top priority for many PCTs and so does not always attract funding. The British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society state on their website that many people do qualify for surgery and that you can ask for a referral. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to funding and if your PCT does not have money allocated for obesity surgery then you will have to look elsewhere.

There is also the problem of your PCT having funding for obesity treatment but for a set amount only. And, once this amount has run out then there is not likely to be any more until the start of a new financial year. The funding is there for all obesity surgery patients but unfortunately it can’t pay for everyone and you might be the unlucky person who finds that the well has run dry.

The other aspect of NHS treatment and one that many people find annoying are waiting lists. This includes obesity surgery and you could find yourself waiting for up to eighteen months or so for surgery.

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