Belfast Telegraph

Plans for first weight-loss surgery unit in Northern Ireland

Plans for first weight-loss surgery in Northern Ireland (PA)
Plans for first weight-loss surgery in Northern Ireland (PA)

Plans are being considered to set up Northern Ireland's first dedicated weight-loss surgery unit.

The Department of Health will assess whether or not the unit should be created in Enniskillen, the BBC reports.

Weight-loss surgery to tackle health conditions in very obese adults has not previously been available within Northern Ireland's health service.

In 2017/18 nearly two-thirds of adults here were overweight or obese.

The Department of Health (DoH) said that while managing weight through a healthy diet and exercise remained the best option, there was growing evidence that in some cases weight-loss surgery could be an effective treatment.

A DoH planning group is to assess population need for weight-loss surgery and assess the capability of the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen to deliver the service. The planning group will be jointly headed by consultant surgeon Mark Taylor and Alistair Campbell, director of hospital services reform in the DoH. 

The group will report back this summer.

Types of weight-loss surgery include gastric bands, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.

DoH permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said: "Obesity is one of the most important public health issues facing Northern Ireland today.

"Being obese can reduce life expectancy by up to nine years and increase the risk of a range of health complications including heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, mental health issues such as depression and complications in pregnancy."

The department estimated the total direct and indirect costs of people being obese and overweight in Northern Ireland rose to £457m in 2015/16- up from £268m in 2009/10.

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