Exclusive: One in six PCTs increases obesity spending seven-fold

One in six PCTs has increased spending on tackling obesity by more than seven-fold over the last three years, according to a GP newspaper investigation.

Photograph: JH Lancy
Photograph: JH Lancy

However, experts warn that obese patients in England are still being denied effective treatment.
Results from data from 60 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act include:

  • 48% of PCTs are now treating more patients for obesity than three years ago,
  • 16% of PCTs have increased their obesity budget seven-fold in the last three years,
  • 16% of PCTs have had to purchase primary care equipment specially designed for obese patients, and,
  • 25% of PCTs have refused requests for bariatric surgery.

Click here for investigation results

Dr David Haslam, a GP in Hertfordshire and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said that PCTs were turning down requests for bariatric surgery not because patients were failing to meet NICE criteria but to cut costs.

‘PCTs are delighted to find any excuse to turn down bariatric surgery, despite the fact that it is among the most clinically effective, and cost effective procedures in any field of medicine.’

Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘Obesity is now so great that this level of PCT spending is necessary just to make inroads into the problem.

‘But this kind of spending cannot be sustained and could go on to cripple the NHS.’

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