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Obese Patients Causing Strain on NHS

Posted: February 4th, 2011 | Author: tom | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Yesterday the BBC revealed that NHS trusts across the UK are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on new equipment to cope with the influx of morbidly obese patients in recent years.

Freedom of Information requests were collated to produce an overall picture of the increased spending and incredible measures that every trust is undertaking to accommodate patients up to 50 stone.

New Equipment:

  • Bariatric ambulances – Specially-designed vehicle crash-tested to take heavier loads and equipped with full-range of obesity equipment. Cost: £60,000 to £90,000.
  • Wider stretchers – Different makes used. Most popular sits on trolley and extends to twice the normal width. Can take patients up to 50 stone (318kg) compared to 30 stone (191kg) normally. Also used in standard ambulances but cannot be extended to full width. Cost: £7,000 to £10,000.
  • Heavy-duty adjustable stretcher – No wider than standard, but able to take heavier patients and has lifting mechanism so it can be moved up and down to make it easier to get large patients on and off. Cost: £7,000.
  • Lifting cushions – Inflatable cushion which can be used to get people off floor. Cost: £2,500.
  • Heavy-duty wheelchairs – Wider and stronger than standard. Cost: £400-plus.
  • Hoists - Tend to be fitted in bariatric ambulances. Used to lift obese on to stretchers. Can take weights of over 40 stone (254kg). Cost: £4,500.
  • Stronger tail-lifts – Capable of taking weights up to 75 stone (476kg). Cost: £800.

The article features a patient, Eileen Forde who struggles to walk without aid and at 34 stone was unable to use a standard stretcher. She describes having to sit in the floor of an under-equipt ambulance to be transported to hospital and how this experience brought her to tears.

What do you think, could more be done to try and ensure that patients never reach the point where specialist equipment is required? Or should the government leave people to their own devices and increase investment in infrastructure?

Photo Credit: Christopher McGonigall

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