Gastric bypass procedures in Somerset rise by 15100%

By Rachael Canter
Reporter, BBC Somerset

image captionSurgeons in Somerset say weight-loss operations can save the NHS money in the long term.

The number of weight-loss operations carried out on the NHS in Somerset have increased by 2,375% over five years.

In 2004-5, surgeons at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton carried out eight gastric bypass operations. This has now increased to 190 in 2009-10.

Consultant surgeon, David Mahon, said: "We would expect the number of cases to continue going up, there is huge demand out there."

Privately sourced bariatric procedures cost between £8,000 and £15,000.

When it comes to gastric band procedures the majority have been carried out on patients from neighbouring Primary Care Trusts in the West.

In 2004-05 one gastric bypass operation was carried out. This figure now stands at 151.

"We've increased resources in this hospital, we've employed a third surgeon, but it's not just a surgical service, there's also a large medical service which has also built up to help service the increase in demand," said Mr Mahon.

Gastric band operations have also gone up from 10 to 37 over the same period, again with the majority of patients coming from outside Somerset.

Michele, a nurse from Yeovil, recently underwent a gastric bypass operation at the beginning of October. She weighed 15 stone (95kg) before surgery.

"I did this operation so I would have an extra 10-15 years of life bringing me in line with the rest of the UK population."

According to Mr Mahon, the surgery will save the NHS more money in the long term.

"There is evidence from the office of Health Economics to suggest that the more operations we do the more the government will actually save money.

"If we were to operate on everyone, if we had the capacity which we don't, then we would save an awful lot of money by treating this problem surgically."

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