Private sector and NHS must work in unison to provide best healthcare - Christine Mozzamdar
And there’s no doubt investment is needed, because levels of demand for weight loss surgery are increasing as obesity continues to rise. Statistics from You Gov show that more than one in four people in the UK are living with it. The annual cost to the NHS of obesity-related illnesses is currently £6.1bn. As a private healthcare business, The Healthcare Collection has recently invested circa £500k in providing accessible obesity-related services and surgical facilities to help with increased demand.
Yet limited NHS time and resource, as well as the effect of the Covid pandemic, have led to record waiting lists for treatment, obesity surgery included. Those with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 40 or more – considered morbidly obese – are most likely to be referred for NHS surgery, but many overweight patients with lower BMIs are left in no man’s land for months or years.
Having worked in the public and private healthcare sectors for over 30 years, I know that waiting lists are not good news for those whose quality of life is rapidly going downhill because of obesity. Anyone who is clinically obese or has a food addiction can be on a collision course to a mental and physical wellbeing crisis – which, of course, adds more demand to the already overstretched health service.
The NHS is incredibly precious, and we all know how lucky we are to have it. But it’s under severe strain. Through genuine collaboration between the NHS and the independent healthcare sector, some of that load can be lifted for the greater good.
Patients may be more willing to undergo weight loss surgery privately if they know that they’ll be supported by the NHS afterwards. With fewer aftercare commitments, independent providers can reduce the price of surgery for patients, making it more cost-effective. And the NHS benefits from solely providing care to patients after their procedure, saving money while also reducing its future costs for obesity-related conditions through the preventative benefits of bariatric surgery.
It's clear to me that the best access to healthcare for patients will result from the NHS and the private sector working in unison. I believe that this is a must if every person in the UK is to be looked after from the cradle to the grave.
In my opinion, there’s room for both public and private healthcare in the UK. The pandemic showed that it is possible for them to work together successfully.
With so many patients waiting to change their lives via bariatric surgery, something must change – and soon. Patients deserve to have choices when it comes to their treatment, and the NHS deserves all the help it can get to thrive, not just survive.
After all, a healthy NHS will lead to a healthier population. It’s in all our interests that it can flourish. Working in a mutually supportive relationship with the independent sector could be revolutionary - helping both parties to adapt and innovate in the best interests of all patients.
Christine Mozzamdar, Clinical Services Director of The Healthcare Collection
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