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Prof O’Shea ‘won’t hang around’ without obesity funding

Prof O’Shea, Consultant Endocrinologist and Physician at St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Columcille’s Hospital, took up the position of Clinical Lead in September 2017.

In an interview with the Medical Independent (MI) on obesity policy, Prof O’Shea said he was “thoroughly enjoying the role” and praised the Government for the introduction of the sugar-sweetened drinks (SSD) tax.

Currently working on details surrounding the funding necessary for implementing the first phase of obesity policy, Prof O’Shea said it was vital that this is supported in the estimates and Budget process later this year.

“There is an obesity policy and action plan that outlines broadly the kind of prevention and treatment network that needs to be put in place,” said Prof O’Shea.

“At the moment, we are kind of costing that and planning how that will look in reality on the ground. We will be bringing to the estimates process this year the first phase of what will need to be a multi-step investment in the prevention and treatment of obesity.”

Prof O’Shea said he did not yet have a finalised figure in respect of the level of funding required. However, he added: “I think the first phase is going to be of the order of millions, not tens of millions. It will be single-figure millions.

“But if the Government don’t fund the first phase of a multi-step approach, then it hasn’t taken the first step and if it is not taking the first step, well then, there is not much point in me hanging around.”

If resources were not forthcoming, “then it would be time for me to pass over to somebody who might be able to make it happen”.

Nevertheless, Prof O’Shea was hopeful that funding would be available.

“Our job is to get the estimates requirements ready and put them in. Tell them that it will actually save them money over a short time frame… Then [we] get out into primary care, into the Community Healthcare Organisations and find out how they envisage management of obesity in primary care.”

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