Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Beds for Bloaters

click to enlarge

I intended to write about the Scottish NHS spending £6 million on beds for obese patients but Conan beat me to it.

However, I'll proceed because the subject is interesting.  Half of Scotland's health boards have had to shell out more than £154,000 for specialist 'bariatric beds' which can hold people weighing 39st plus.  Five of the health boards had to spend thousands hiring beds suitable for people weighing over 50st and NHS Fife had to purchase three beds that could be used by patients weighing up to 78st, which collectively set the trust back £24,000.  This was in addition to the two hundred regular beds which can hold people that weigh up to 39st.

Over the course of the last three financial years, NHS Grampian has had to spend £52,751 (excluding VAT) on beds for people weighing up to 70st.  This year the NHS Western Isles was forced to spend £19,387 to fund one bed that could support people who weighed 60st.  On top of this NHS Forth Valley had to rent four specialist bariatric beds for patients that weigh 39st - costing them £50,376 from April 2008 to March 2010.

NHS Shetland, NHS Highland, NHS Orkney and NHS Tayside also reported spending thousands on purchasing beds for obese patients since January 2008.  The majority of health boards said that patients who weighed over 50st would not be charged for the hire of a toughened bed if they were to need one.  That must mean patients under 50st will be charged.

But it's not just the beds that need adapting in hospitals, a staggering £6m has had to be spent kitting the hospitals with reinforced trolleys, commodes, zimmer frames, extra wide wheel chairs, stronger operating tables, reinforced walking sticks and toughened sliding sheets used to move obese patients from bed to bed.

It's said Scotland is second in the world's obesity league table, with America in first place.  The latest obesity statistics show one in five adults are obese and one in five children are suffering from childhood obesity.  Collectively these people cost the NHS an estimated £200m every year.

Back in the 50s and 60s I don't remember obesity being a problem.  The only time I was aware of obesity was when I visited a great aunt.  She was a delightful woman, always cheery and always welcoming. Also she was a tremendous baker and it was guaranteed I would leave with a bag full of melt-in-the-mouth delicacies - half of which would be consumed on the long walk home.  The family spoke in whispers about 'Aunty Betty's illness' and I thought it was something to do with her vast weight.  It did indirectly because she was agoraphobic and in later years I learned she hadn't been out of her house for many years.  These days her phobia would be recognised and treated but in the 50s it was regarded as 'just one of those things'.  Her complete lack of exercise (she lived in a top floor flat) contributed greatly to her weight I'm sure, yet she never complained.  I'm sure she didn't have a reinforced bed. A plank of wood would have been her support.



Dark Lochnagar said...

Doctors are now beginning to realise that obesity is an illness rather than some twat eating too many pies. A person who is inclined to obesity will always finish what is on their plate, whereas someone who is not will finish eating when they are full. A lot of these problems came from childhood, when children were always told to eat EVERYTHING on their plate. people who have become obese often have additional health problems like diabetes, when taking large amounts of insulin can pile additional weight on. It's easy for someone who is not inclined towards obesity to say, "just go on a diet". Most fat people have been on many diets and their weight has yoyoed throughout their lifetime. Diets DON'T WORK for this group of people and bariatric surgery would save the NHS millions in the long run. Unfortunately there are too many 'celebrities' getting a gastric band and stupid young girls don't realise that you still have to watch what you eat and these celebrities have employed trainers to help with their weight loss.

Elby the Beserk said...

The obese don't cost the NHS a penny. It is the taxpayer who pays

John said...

I just wonder if NHS is the villain here or might it be our old pal elfin safety? Do they 'have' to have a monster bed just in case a monster patient arrives or is there a specific eg Western Isler who weighs that much? If they put a 60 stoner in a 30 stone bed it would be an elfin matter. I once got to 28 stone and apart from being 6'2" tall, I was a VERY fat bstard. I cannot imagine a wee person at 30 stone still less 60. My stapling worked but that is because my stomach only holds about as much a a can of soup so my intake is limited but the staples themselves did nothing for my desire to eat.

William said...

Obesity is not an illness and the NHS is enabling people to think it's something over which they have no control (they also do this for junkies and alkies). People need to be told to cut out the garbage in their diet, get more active and they WILL lose weight. There is no magic pills or operations required here. It's simply people being bone idle and refusing to live in the adult world.

The main reason the NHS is requiring more and more money (yet is unable to treat more and more serious illness) is because it is spending too much time and money treating people for 'diseases' it was never intended to in the first place.

subrosa said...

My generation was taught to eat everything on their plate DL yet there was little obesity around. Possibly because there wasn't much money to fill plates full of the type of food that isn't too good for you.

I can understand the struggle some have with their weight but you're right when you say these days surgery seems to be what folk think will work - because the 'celebs' have it. They don't understand it's major surgery and they also don't understand the other illnesses obesity brings.

subrosa said...

It is Elby.

JuliaM said...

"Doctors are now beginning to realise that obesity is an illness..."

You mean, they are desperately trying to find yet another way for people to blame their lack of self-control on outside factors?

subrosa said...

It could be John. Mind you, I'm quite small and these trolleys are quite narrow.

Yes they possibly do require to have a bed for the 'just in case' situations. It's sensible if they have a larger wheelchair though because there's nothing worse than having to try to squeeze yourself into a chair which is too small.

To undergo such surgery takes some courage I should think John. But of course if it's the last resort then I suppose I'd go for it too.

subrosa said...

William, we've become too used to instant 'fixes' which really encourage a lack of self discipline. We have young girls told they can have abortions without their parents' knowledge and therefore nobody taking any responsibility.

subrosa said...

Yes Julia, but that's society today. Nobody accepts responsibility for their own actions. Somebody else will fix them.

RMcGeddon said...

Cheap high carb food and lack of exercise is the reason for people getting fat. It's not rocket science.
You don't have to be an expert to know this. Look at the results of forced labour camps in Japan and Nazi Germany to see the results of little food and hard work. Or someone lost in the hils for a week.
Or even the millions of young people flooding the UK from Poland, Lithuania, Romania etc. Skinny fit and healthy with not a scrap of fat on them. Brought up on homecooking and hard graft. A bit like the UK in the 50's and 60's.

subrosa said...

I was visiting friends the other evening RM and their grandchildren (12 and 15) were there. Grandmother said 'macaroni cheese for tea' and both said 'is that all?'.

I was brought up on that food - it was my brother's favourite and he was given it often being my mother's pet. It was a sake of eat it or starve so I ate it. I would have been given it for tea the next night if I hadn't.

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