Calls for NHS cash to be used at private clinics to tackle obesity

Saturday, November 24, 2012
Derby Telegraph

MONEY spent by the NHS to tackle obesity could be more effective if was used to send patients to private clinics, according to the head of a city slimming centre.
Promode Sinha made the comments to Derby North MP Chris Williamson when the Labour politician visited the Slimming and Diet Clinic in Burton Road, Derby, yesterday.
The managing director said that, last year, the city's primary care trust spend almost £120 million on diseases associated with people being overweight or obese. He said this was expected to rise to nearly £130 million by 2015.

And Mr Sinha said, if some of the cash could instead be used to subsidise the cost of treatment for patients at private clinics, it might help more people lost weight. He said: "Having surgery, such as a gastric band operation, can be hugely expensive and we think it's important people don't lose weight too quickly.

"We offer a comprehensive treatment covering medication, diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and managing the weight. On top of that, we are constantly encouraging our clients to give them hope. We know GPs don't often have that much time to give patients and we're suggesting that, if the NHS agreed to subsidise the cost of some clients coming to private clinics, we could treat a lot more people for them. This means, if the NHS bill can be reduced because the obesity treatment is more cost-effective, then money can be spent on other things, like more staff and ambulances. The NHS is at breaking point and perhaps clinics like ours can help relieve some of the burden."

Mr Sinha is a member of national charity Obesity Management Association, which organised Mr Williamson's visit and aims to educate elected representatives about the success of removing the burden on the NHS. He said discussions would be taking place in the House of Commons in January next year about the proposals.

Mr Sinha also showed the MP some of the work done at the clinic during the visit. He said: "Mr Williamson seemed quite impressed with what we are doing here." Afterwards, Mr Williamson said: "It was a very interesting visit and it's clear valuable work is going on there. "It may be appropriate the work of clinics could be supported through the NHS. Certainly anything which can address concerns about obesity is worth investigating."