Western Sussex Hospitals have joined up with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals to form a new NHS Foundation Trust for our area: University Hospitals Sussex.

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Bariatric surgery

BBC One Show visits St Richard’s centre of excellence

Tuesday August 12, 2014

The work of St Richard’s Hospital’s centre of excellence for bariatric surgery in improving the health of obese patients will feature on the BBC’s The One Show this week.

The magazine programme, watched by millions of people at 7pm each night on BBC One, is hosting a special report about Type 2 Diabetes and stomach by-pass surgery.

Reporter Trish Adudu and a film crew visited St Richard’s on Tuesday 5th August to interview a patient before and after surgery; another whose life has been transformed by the operation; and leading Trust bariatric surgeon Christopher Pring.

The BBC One Show report explores the new NHS guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, or NICE, which make surgery potentially an option for a greater number of overweight patients who have Type 2 Diabetes.

Bariatric surgeon Mr Christopher Pring
Bariatric surgeon Mr Christopher Pring

Mr Pring said: “As doctors we have known for a long time that bariatric surgery is not just about weight loss but about improving health. The media and the public are now starting to understand this as well.

“Bariatric surgery is clinically effective in offering sustained health improvement in the long term and improving life expectancy.

“It is also cost effective in that it pays for itself in two to four years.”

Trish, the BBC reporter, was astounded by the financial cost of caring for those with Type 2 Diabetes.

“I just find it incredible,” she said. “It costs the NHS almost £10 billion a year to treat Type 2 Diabetes related illnesses – that’s just staggering.

“It is a secret epidemic that we face, and the fact you can save the NHS a lot of money by a doing a procedure like a gastric by-pass is a real eye-opener for me.”

St Richard’s is the only accredited National Centre of Excellence for bariatric metabolic surgery in the UK.

It carries out procedures which can often reverse the onset of Type 2 Diabetes for patients.

Each operation costs the NHS approximately £10,000, but it is around £100,000 to care for someone aged over 50 with Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2013/14 there were 348 admissions to the bariatric service at St Richard’s, and since it started operating in 2007 more than 3,000 people with severe and complex morbid obesity have been treated.

Mr Pring said: “We see a significant improvement in our patients’ health, for example, in respect of their diabetes, hypertension, fertility and/or mobility.”

Patients have an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 48. Three quarters are women and the average time patients have been dieting prior to surgery is 23 years.

The experience at St Richard’s was fantastic, and I cannot speak highly enough of Mr Pring and all the nurses

Nearly a fifth of patients have Type 2 Diabetes, such as 59-year-old Gary Bullen from Uckfield.

The chartered surveyor was operated on by Mr Pring in April 2012 and returned to St Richard’s to explain to the BBC One Show how the procedure changed his life.

He said: “The experience at St Richard’s was fantastic, and I cannot speak highly enough of Mr Pring and all the nurses.

“Two-and-a-half years ago, at 30 stone, my life was going down the pan. Now I feel fit and healthy.”

Following his gastric by-pass, Mr Bullen lost 12 stone, which in turn had a significant beneficial effect on other health issues he was suffering from.

“It is just unbelievable,” he told the BBC reporter. “The operation was life-changing, life-saving and life-prolonging.”

Philip Perrot, a professional driver from Crawley, is hoping his operation at St Richard’s will change his life in a similar way.

He spoke to the film crew just prior to his operation, and explained that without the procedure he stands to lose his job, and potentially much more from complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes.

The BBC reporter commented: “Philip was very relaxed going in to surgery, and that compliments the feeling and atmosphere around the hospital.

“Everyone is friendly, from the catering staff to the surgeons, and I think a lot of work must go in to making people feel comfortable.”

Trish added: “I have never been in a hospital like this, with such beautiful artwork, and a wonderful relaxed feeling – I’m incredibly impressed.”

The BBC One Show report featuring Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust bariatric services at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester is scheduled for broadcast on Thursday 14th August on BBC One from 7pm.

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