Hospitals criticised over facilities for obese patients

By Rachael Canter
Reporter, BBC Somerset

  • Published
Eileen Forde
Image caption,
Since having a gastric sleeve operation, Eileen Forde has lost 10 stone (64 kg)

A Somerset woman who was too overweight to fit in a hospital scanner has criticised the NHS for not providing better care for obese patients.

Eileen Forde weighed 34 stone (215kg) before having a gastric sleeve operation which involves removing 85% of the stomach.

She said after being unable to fit in an MRI scanner, she called both London and Bristol zoos asking to be scanned.

But both said their scanners were not commissioned for human use.

"I couldn't get into an MRI scanner - why couldn't I? Yes, I understand the mechanics of these machines, but why aren't there scanners out there?

"Every single one of them (hospitals) say they can accommodate a larger person but they can't, you just can't fit in them.

"They can scan animals, so why can't they scan me?"

'Felt like a freak'

Ms Forde said she knew someone who had been scanned at an equestrian centre but that was done at the patient's own risk and could not be done again.

Sharon Bates, a bariatric nurse in the Bristol area, said she had also heard of patients being taken to the zoo for scans.

"It's a very sad situation, that we're almost not wanting to address this growing obesity in society by providing equipment which is safer for the patient," said Ms Bates.

North Bristol NHS Trust said it had no record of patients using scanners at veterinary practices.

Image caption,
Chairs and beds have been adapted for obese people to use

Ms Forde said hospitals were ill-equipped for dealing with obese people.

She said although they have bariatric beds which can take people up to 60 stone (380 kg), they are not any wider and are three inches (7.6cm) higher and "your arms and legs don't get longer just because you get fatter".

Wheelchairs also have fixed frames, meaning obese people cannot use them.

"Doing major things in hospital like going to the toilet, using a shower - you don't fit in there. They're either too small or they haven't got anything for you to hold on to.

"I felt a freak. I feel alien to the NHS and that I don't fit in anywhere."

The head of nursing at Yeovil District Hospital, Jo Ryan, said hospitals had standard equipment such as large chairs and hoists for obese people.

She said hospital design was changing all the time to adapt to society's needs.

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