Bracknell woman gets gastric bypass funding on NHS

Hazel Kent
Image caption The 40-year-old said she wanted to offer hope to others in her situation

A woman who launched a legal bid to have gastric bypass surgery after a health trust refused funding has been told it will be paid for by the NHS.

Hazel Kent, of Bracknell, Berkshire, claimed it was her only hope to lose weight, but funding was rejected due to her body mass index being too low.

The 40-year-old was to take Berkshire East NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) to court in a bid to overturn the ruling.

She has since been told the trust will now pay for the £15,000 surgery.

Ms Kent lost seven-and-a-half stone (49kg) in 2001 after having a gastric band fitted but it had to be removed due to medical complications.

'Don't give up'

The mother-of-three first applied for funding two-and-a-half years ago but the PCT said Ms Kent's body mass index was not high enough.

Its guidelines state anyone undergoing the surgery should have a BMI of at least 50, while Ms Kent's is 37.8.

Image caption Ms Kent had a gastric band fitted in 2001 and shed seven-and-a-half stone (49kg)

The trust, which had refused Ms Kent funding four times, added that other criteria had to be met in order for patients to have the operation.

The operation involves creating a small stomach pouch and bypassing part of the small intestine to make the digestive system shorter.

Surgeons believe it is effective in weight loss because a person will only eat a small amount of food.

Ms Kent, whose weight has steadily increased back to 15st 10lbs (100kg), had hired a solicitor and the case was set to be heard at the High Court in Manchester in October.

"I feel fantastic," she told the BBC News Website.

"When I first heard the news I did feel slightly deflated because going to court was not just for me, it was for other people like me and this was a landmark case.

"I just stuck to my guns and I just want to say to people don't ever give up. This is going to change my life dramatically and was my only hope."

Ms Kent said she had tried diets and exercise in order to lose weight but this had not worked.

She said having the operation would save the NHS money in the long-term as being overweight could lead to a string of other health conditions.

"It's better to fund for it now than have to pay for all the other health-related issues that would be a burden on the NHS if I got bigger," she added.

In a statement East Berkshire PCT said: "When our case review committee considers an individual case it takes into account policies set by the Berkshire priorities committee, guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and each patient's individual circumstances.

"The decision-making process includes a right of appeal. We are unable to discuss this or any other individual case in detail due to our commitment to patient confidentiality."

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