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Covid-19 impacts bariatric surgery

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the number of bariatric surgeries taking place in Ireland, according to figures seen by the Medical Independent (MI).

Ten bariatric surgeries have taken place in St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH), Dublin, and none as yet in St Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, show figures provided by Ireland East Hospital Group.

Only one bariatric operation has taken place in University Hospital Galway (UHG), according to Saolta University Health Care Group.

The statistics provided are up to 25 May this year.

In 2019, some 56 bariatric surgeries were conducted in SVUH and 21 in St Michael’s Hospital. In addition, 13 such surgeries were undertaken at UHG, in addition to 10 procedures performed by a UHG consultant in a private hospital through the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

The importance of increasing the level of bariatric surgery has been highlighted by experts.

“Covid-19 poses difficulties in planning and performing all elective surgery including weight loss surgery,” Dr Conor Woods, Consultant Endocrinologist, Tallaght University Hospital, told MI.

“Given the medium-term and long-term benefits of weight loss surgery, every effort should be made to allow these important procedures to continue. Extra resources should be allocated to increase our capacity to perform weight loss surgery to improve health and reduce demand on acute services.”

The pandemic has also impacted obesity policy at a Departmental level.

“The progress report on the recommendations in the Obesity Policy and Action Plan is currently being finalised under the aegis of the obesity policy implementation and oversight group and is at an advanced stage,” a Department spokesperson told MI last month.

People with obesity are a high-risk group for serious illness arising from Covid-19.

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