Category: <span>News</span>

The Irish Times ran an article this week entitled Flawed weight-loss operations abroad creating ‘huge problem’

The article states that there is currently a waiting list of over 400 people in Ireland needing bariatric surgery, and that some of those people are accessing faster treatment by paying for surgery abroad, in places like Turkey and eastern Europe.

However it seems that some patients are experiencing complications when they get back to Ireland, and according to my surgeon Prof Helen Heneghan, who works at St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin, they are presenting to Irish hospitals and need urgent surgery to correct problems.

She estimates eight to 10 patients a week are presenting at Irish hospitals with complications of bariatric surgery carried out abroad, with numbers doubling over the past 18 months.

Many suffer leaks where their stomach doesn’t seal, or stitches haven’t healed, after the operation. Bowel blockages and clots have also required treatment.

The answer, of course, is to increase the funding and capacity for bariatric treatment in the public hospitals here in Ireland, where the current average waiting time for surgery is 6 years!

If people could be treated for their obesity more quickly, they wouldn’t have to resort to paying thousands or euros to use a private clinic abroad.

News Surgery

Obesity has been identified as one of the significant risk factors for people catching the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Here in Ireland, the vaccine rollout is being done in groups, which starts with:

  • Group 1 – People ages 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities
  • Group 2 – Frontline healthcare workers
  • Group 3 – People aged 70 and older living in the community
  • Group 4 – People aged 16 to 69 who are at very high risk
  • Group 5 – People aged 65 to 69 at high risk
  • Group 6 – Other people aged 65 to 69
  • Group 7 – People aged 16 to 64 who are at high risk

After that, the rest of the population is being vaccinated based upon age group – starting with the oldest people first.

Groups 1-4 are currently receiving their first dose of vaccine, and those in groups 5-7 are expected to start receiving theirs over the next month or so.

The interesting thing for obese people is that:

  • Group 4 includes people who have a BMI over 40
  • Group 7 includes people who have a BMI over 35

According the the HSE, everyone in group 4 should receive their first dose by the end of April 2021, and people in group 7 should start on 3rd May 2021.

Hospitals vaccination lists

I heard today that the bariatric team in my hospital recently submitted a list of all their patients to the HSE – to make sure they’re all included in these earlier vaccine stages. Whether that means people are included in group 4 or 7 I don’t know, but it’s an encouraging sign.

I also heard that the oncology teams have also submitted lists of their current and former patients – which I guess will also include me, because of the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I had back in 2015/6.

News Surgery

With record numbers of COVID-19 positive people currently in hospital, the HSE in Ireland is taking over some of the capacity of private hospitals.

It’s expected that around 25% of capacity in private hospitals will be controlled by the HSE for a period of about 12 months. That’s going to reduce the capacity for elective surgery to be performed, which could well impact upon those waiting for bariatric surgery.

My own surgery was initially pencilled in for March 2020, but when the first COVID-19 wave hit Ireland, the entire capacity of private hospitals was taken over for 3 months. All private treatment stopped, and it took until August for my surgery to be re-scheduled.

Hopefully this time around the impact will be less, as the HSE is only taking part of the capacity, and so private treatment can continue albeit at a reduced rate. However the concern is that urgent surgeries (such as cancer treatments) might take priority over bariatric cases.

So for now, bariatric surgery patients have an anxious wait to see if their upcoming surgery date is going to get cancelled or postponed.

News Surgery

There are two weight loss surgery support groups on Facebook for people in Ireland who have had surgery or are considering it.

The groups are:

Both are private groups that you have to ask to join. But once you’re in you can share your experience with hundreds of other people in Ireland that have had weight loss surgery.

Lots of people ask questions, and receive help and advice from other members. Some are still considering surgery and want to know more. Others are post-operative, and want to share their experience. But overwhelmingly they are both positive and supportive groups.

News Surgery

We are launching a new World Obesity Day on March 4, 2020, to call for a global response to this critical challenge. Obesity is now a global crisis that affects 650 million people worldwide, but is poorly understood. The complexity of the disease, the challenge of developing sustainable solutions and the burden of stigma means we need to work together to address the challenge.

News Surgery