Cambridgeshire

Peterborough hospital staff wear 'fat suits'

About 1,000 hospital staff are being trained to better understand their obese patients by wearing a "fat suit".

The 6kg (13lb) suit is designed to help reduce injuries to staff and patients at Peterborough City Hospital.

Moving and handling trainer Rolf Stobbart said as a result of the suit, staff were "thinking about patients in a different way".

The number of the hospital's patients weighing over 28 stone (180kg) has risen from six in 2010 to 52 this year.

The heaviest patient the hospital has treated has been 55 stone (349kg).

'Patient's dignity'

The £1,000 suit was donated to the hospital by the charity Friends of Peterborough Hospital.

When worn by staff it is designed to give them the proportions of a 40-stone (254kg) person and restrict their movement.

Julie Tebb, from the hospital's moving and handling team, said: "I found it quite uncomfortable to be completely flat on my back.

"It restricts my airways, and I find it difficult to breathe."

The care of obese patients is known as bariatric medicine.

Mr Stobbart said: "Having the staff prepared with the knowledge of dealing with the bariatric patient, it's [about] techniques we already use but in a different format."

In October, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued draft guidance which said doctors treating obese or overweight patients should be "respectful" and "non-blaming".

Just over a quarter of adults in England are classed as obese and a further 41% of men and 33% of women as overweight.

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