BOMSS has submitted objections to plans to transfer control of commissioning weight loss surgery to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) by April. It is worried that the plans are being pushed through too quickly and could impact on both patient care and access to cost-effective treatment.
The objections echo those of the NHS Clinical Commissioners – the independent membership organisation of CCGs – which has complained to NHS England about the proposals to transfer responsibility for morbid obesity services (and renal dialysis) to CCGs by April, saying they do not give CCGs time to plan effective services for patients.
Mr Richard Welbourn, president of BOMSS says: “If the transfer of services is handed over in haste in just a few months we are worried that in the inevitable chaos that will result, surgery referrals will fall which will make access to effective treatment even more difficult for severely obese patients and may even threaten the viability of some NHS bariatric units”.
“We recognise that many have little sympathy for obese individuals getting bariatric surgery on the NHS and that prejudice against people who are severely overweight is widespread, but we have shown that bariatric surgery very quickly gives people their health back and actually reduces the national healthcare bill.
“Any reduction in the NHS weight-loss surgery service would end up costing the taxpayer much more in other health costs as untreated patients consume huge amounts of NHS resource treating conditions such as diabetes and other serious disabilities caused by obesity.”
BOMSS is calling for the transfer of commissioning responsibility to be delayed for a year until April 2016 to allow enough time to introduce statutory safeguards which will protect morbidly obese patients from inequality of access to NHS treatment.
It wants NHS England to retain overall responsibility in a co-commissioning arrangement with CCGs from April 2015 to April 2016 and that commissioning practice during this transition period adheres strictly to current practice and the national service specification.