Obesity surgery costs NHS £9m in Devon over five years

Overweight person Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Patients and the NHS say the obesity operations save money in the long term

About £9m of NHS cash has been spent on obesity surgery for nearly 800 patients in Devon over the past five years.

The number of people having weight-loss surgery from the NHS in the county has increased by a quarter in the last year.

The NHS says the operations are a last resort and patients are carefully selected.

Patients have also been referred to a new £300,000 weight management service.

In Cornwall the number of gastric band or bypass procedures went up from 61 in the year 2011 to 2012, to 81 in 2012-13.

'Increase physical activity'

About 160 Devon people could now gain free gym membership or take part in a slimming programme for three months to help tackle obesity through the service.

Stephen Brown, assistant public director of public health at Devon County Council, said: "This is the first time that patients who are eligible will receive a three month programme which will enable them to increase physical activity and look at their eating habits."

Last year three times as many women compared with men had bariatric surgery.

Shelley Cooper, 48, from Plymouth, had a gastric bypass seven years ago.

She used to weigh 29 stone and the gastric band helped her to lose 11 stone.

"For years I didn't want to have an operation. I do not regret having the operation at all. It was worth it. I will come back and be a productive member of society after losing the weight," she said.

A spokesman for NHS England (South) said weight loss surgery is only considered when all other non-invasive measures like low calorie diets and behaviour therapies have been unsuccessful.

He said for these patients, bariatric surgery has been shown to be highly cost effective in reducing BMI and the associated health problems.

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