New call over specialist treatment

Health chiefs in the county are today firmly backing the bid to get specialist care for obese patients in Suffolk.

SUFFOLK: Health chiefs in the county are today firmly backing the bid to get specialist care for obese patients in Suffolk.

Under new proposals by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG), Ipswich Hospital could have its own specialist centre to treat and perform surgery for bariatric (obese) patients.

At present the closest specialist centres are at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire and Homerton Hospital in East London, meaning that the increasing numbers of obese patients needing treatment in this county have long distances to travel.

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive at NHS Suffolk, has said she will give her full support to get the service at Ipswich Hospital.

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It has been reported that 70-stone Ipswich man, Paul Mason had to travel in an adapted ambulance to a specialist unit in Sussex for expert treatment.

Anger erupted among many readers after it emerged that his ongoing care and benefits had cost the taxpayer more than �1million.

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Mrs Taylor-Brown, who attended the SCG meeting where the issue was discussed, told NHS Suffolk board members: “I was concerned about the general access [of the service] in the eastern area of the Anglia patch.

“There is a consideration of reinstation for it at Ipswich Hospital, which is our strongest preference. We want that service in Ipswich Hospital.”

The subject has regularly been discussed by the SCG at its board meetings but a pilot programme that would have seen new centres created across the region was previously suspended.

The group's associate director of commissioning Carolyn Young said that when the future of the pilot programme was discussed back in 2008, it was decided that more should be done within local communities first in order to offer support services directly to seriously overweight people rather than invest in new surgery centres. The issue is set to be discussed again at the next SCG board meeting in February.

Andrew Reed, chief executive at Ipswich Hospital, told members of the hospital board that it has submitted a bid for the service.

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