HOSPITALS in Scotland have been forced to widen doors and adapt mortuaries in an effort to cope with the obesity crisis.
Some have bought chilled body bags so they can keep the bodies of overweight people on specially designed beds able to cope with their size instead of putting them in the mortuary.
Figures reveal NHS Scotland has spent at least £800,000 adapting its facilities for obese people in the past three years. However, the true cost is likely to be far higher as some health boards do not keep a track of obesity-related costs.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Sadly it’s a necessary evil as so many people are now extremely overweight.
“The only advantage is that it can be seen as an investment as we will need these facilities for years to come because people in Britain are getting fatter and fatter.
“It’s an appalling situation but it’s one we’ve brought on ourselves.” Around a quarter of Britain’s population is now obese, putting a huge strain on health services, while graveyards are reported to be widening plots to fit oversized coffins. Hospitals are also being forced to buy specialist stretchers, couches, cushions, wheelchairs, body bags, scales, operating tables and walking frames.
In NHS Ayrshire and Arran, officials spent £146,766 in three years on equipment and alterations to buildings to accommodate fat people. This included more than £20,000 upgrading the mortuary at Arran War Memorial Hospital, including changes so it can store the bodies of up to eight obese patients. Thousands of pounds were also spent widening doors at Crosshouse Hospital and £3,500 for a room for obese patients at Biggart Hospital.
NHS Grampian spent £242,373, with more than £165,000 on stretchers for people weighing up to 50 stone. The board also bought an £11,220 mobile mortuary cooling system which allows the bodies of obese patients to be kept cold on a bed or trolley if they are too large to move safely.
The difficulty in storing larger corpses has already caused problems for many hospitals. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has spent more than £49,000 on facilities for fat people, including a trolley costing £18,500.
Other costs in Scotland included more than £162,000 spent by NHS Tayside, £14,000 by Borders, £20,000 by Forth Valley, £60,764 by Dumfries and Galloway and £42,000 by NHS Fife, including £26,394 on a dental chair for obese patients.