HEALTH chiefs have doubled their spending on super-strong beds which cater for patients weighing up to half a ton, new figures reveal.
Over the past five years around £50,000 has been spent on special beds capable of carrying super-size patients weighing up to 78 stone.
The move is further evidence of the obesity epidemic gripping Edinburgh and the Lothians and will only get worse unless steps are taken to halt it, claim critics.
Jackson Carlaw MSP, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, was shocked at the spend on bariatric beds.
He said: “We clearly have a terrible problem with obesity, spanning all ages and areas across the Lothians.”
Figures obtained under freedom of information rules show patients in NHS Lothian hospitals have spent 1150 days in specialist bariatric beds – twice the 481 figure in 2007.
The £50,000 was spent on leasing the devices rather than buying them outright.
Mr Carlaw added: “NHS Lothian has no choice but to make such provisions for the patients we care for.
“The Scottish Government has to do more to get people from a very young age to value the importance of exercise and a healthy diet.”
Bariatric beds are generally built with a reinforced frame, a larger sleeping platform and enough clearance around them for other equipment, such as hoists, to be used.
And while their use is clearly on the up in the Lothians elsewhere other boards have gone even further, with NHS Lanarkshire spending £3 million to replace its entire bed fleet with those capable of taking hugely overweight patients.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway spent £34,700 on bariatric beds over the last five years. NHS Fife bought three similar beds at a cost of £24,000.
Campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to “get tough” in a bid to cut Scotland’s bulging waistline.
A report released last month revealed that more than a quarter of Scottish adults are classified as obese. The Scottish Health Survey found that the average man’s waist circumference has grown from 37in to 39in, while the average woman’s had expanded from 32.5in to 35in.
Obesity costs Scotland £450 million per year – but it has been estimated that if left unchecked the total bill could exceed £3 billion annually. Scotland’s health services face a £175m-a-year bill every year for treating problems linked to obesity, such as high blood pressure and type two diabetes.
Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said: “The solution lies in changing our entire environment from one which promotes weight gain to one that supports healthy choices.
“Just last week the public health minister announced that all pre-packaged foods will have a consistent red-amber-green guide, making it easier to choose healthier products.”