Tag: <span>Private Hospitals</span>

I was shocked to read today on the Bariatric Banter Facebook group that bariatric patients of some hospitals are being charged up-front fees of €4,000 or more – and that’s for people who are fully covered for the surgery by their health insurance!

The fees being charged by hospitals such as the Bons Secours and Blackrock Clinic, and are supposed to cover the cost of 2 years of follow-up after-care. But instead of charging people for these appointments as they happen, these hospitals demand full payment ahead of surgery.

This image captured by a bariatric patient of the Bons Secours in Cork shows the charges:

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In this case, the €4k fee is to cover the cost of dealing with complications and potential emergency corrective surgery – but these are things that many patients may not need.

They do say that some of the money can be reclaimed through a patient’s health insurance – presumably when receipts are issued for outpatient consultant and dietician visits. But even so, four thousand seems very expensive.

I had my surgery in St Vincent’s Private, and they charge people for each after-care appointment as it happens. So far I’ve had one follow-up with the surgeon at 6 weeks, and a session with the dietician at 3 months. I’ve also got a second dietician session organised in a couple of weeks for my 6 month. And I get to pay of each of those separately – and claim back 50% of the cost from my health insurance. But I can’t see the cumulative cost of all the follow-ups coming any where near €4,000!


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

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown all elective surgery was postponed in Ireland, in both the private and public hospitals. The private hospitals were also taken under public management, and all resources were directed to dealing with COVID patients.

Unless it was life-threatening, people who were due to have elective surgery were told to wait until the COVID crisis was over.

We’re now at the point where the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths is relatively low, and the rate of replication of the disease is low.

The restrictions are being eased, and there is a roadmap to reopen the country.

More specifically, the contract to take over management of the private hospitals is due to expire in a couple of weeks, and at that point the private hospitals should be able to resume their normal service.

This is good news for private patients who have had an anxious wait.

One of the hospital consultants told me recently that it might take a while for private hospitals to get back up to speed. And I suppose in the last few months the waiting lists of people needing surgery has probably grown – so I’m guessing they’ll have to prioritise those in the most need.

My bariatric surgery

I was originally supposed to have my bariatric surgery in late February – before COVID came to Ireland. If that had gone ahead as planned then I’d be living a different life by now.

Unfortunately, my surgeon went on leave a few weeks before I was due to go under the knife, and the surgery was postponed. And then COVID happened, and so everything was put on hold.

However, I recently heard that my surgeon is now expected back from their leave at the end of this month, which nicely coincides with the private hospitals being restored to self-management. So I’m hoping it won’t be long until they start working again on their elective surgery lists.

I have no idea where I sit in the priority list for surgery. My oncologist is very keen for me to get the surgery as soon as possible, and has written to my surgeon to prioritise my case, but I’m not sure what weight that will carry.

I’m sure everyone is trying to get their case escalated and pushed to the top of the queue.


I feel very lucky that my employer gives me private health insurance. Without it I think my experience of being referred for bariatric surgery would be considerably different.

My oncologist had said to me that he wanted to refer to me to some colleagues to deal with my weight, but I didn’t think much more about it until I received an invite to a free information evening run by the bariatric team in my hospital.

I hadn’t ever thought of surgery as a way of dealing with my weight. I’d heard of people getting gastric bypasses, but I thought of it in the same league as cosmetic surgery – something that only people with lots of money could hope to afford.

The invite talked of a range of options including diet, exercise, medication and surgery. And when I agreed to go along, my intention was to perhaps to try some medication to help me lose weight.

I learned a lot that night that changed my mind.

First of all, it was a revelation to learn that the medical community is now treating obesity as a disease. And instead of being lectured to and made to feel embarrassed for being so overweight, they actually sympathised with everyone’s weight struggles. They said that medical thinking had changed a lot in recent years. It used to be that the emphasis was much higher on prevention (diet and exercise) rather than treatment (surgery). But that approach hadn’t worked. And now the emphasis has shifted greatly towards treatment, as it’s much more effective than preventative measures.

Second of all, I was surprised to learn that the cost of weight loss surgery is covered by private health insurance. The insurance industry are willing to pay for bariatric surgery in the short term to avoid having to treat the multitude of obesity-related illnesses in the longer term.

These two facts changed my mind about going for surgery.

After that I met with a series of medics on a one-to-one basis, including a dietitian, a phycologist and finally my surgeon. They wanted to discuss my weight struggles, my attempts to lose weight in the past, and my state of mind. They explained what surgery involved, both in a physical way and what emotional effect it would have on me.

So I feel like I’m going into the whole thing with my eyes open. It’s certainly not going to be an easy fix for my weight. Going under the surgeon’s knife is only the start of a long and difficult journey. But I know it’s one that I want – and need – to take.

At the moment, I’ve been assessed as suitable for a gastric bypass. My insurance company has confirmed that I’m covered for the procedure. And I’m just waiting for my surgery date.