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Obesity sparks specialist beds cost

Hospitals have spent tens of thousands of pounds on specialist beds, some of which can take patients weighing up to 78 stone, as signs emerge that the number of obese people seeking treatment is growing.

Seven of Scotland's 14 health boards spent more than £154,000 since 2008 on the "bariatric beds", which can take patients weighing from 39 stone and more.

At least five health boards have also spent thousands hiring beds for patients weighing over 50 stone.

NHS Fife said it bought three bariatric beds for people weighing up to 78 stone in February 2009 at a cost of £24,000 for all three.

The health board said: "The beds were purchased as NHS Fife has seen a rise in the number of obese patients being admitted."

Since January 2008 the health board said it had to rent two beds, which could cater for a weight of up to 78 stone, at a cost of £2,500 in 2008 and £1,200 in 2010 for patients.

The board's "regular profiling" beds can take up to 39 stones in weight and there are approximately 200 in use.

In the last three financial years, since March 2007, NHS Grampian spent £62,751, excluding VAT, on specialist bariatric beds with a safe working load of 70 stone. The health board said it had a total of 12 specialist bariatric beds, catering for a "safe working load" of 70 stone, in operation.

NHS Western Isles forked out £19,387.50 in March this year for a bariatric bed that could take a weight up to 60 stone. NHS Forth Valley leased four bariatric beds for patients weighing up to 39 stone at a cost of £50,376 between April 2008 and March this year.

NHS Shetland, NHS Highland, NHS Orkney and NHS Tayside also said they spent thousands of pounds buying bariatric beds since January 2008.

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