Obesity surgery should be equally available for all eligible Australian patients via the public health system, according to an editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Michael Edye, Professor of Surgery at the Blacktown Clinical School of the University of Western Sydney, and Michael Talbot, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery at St George Hospital, say those who have bariatric surgery in the public system get as good a result as those who go private.
“[And yet], Australia still has no framework within which obesity treatment of any kind, including surgery, can be offered to all,” they write.
In states where bariatric surgery is available publicly, services are poorly funded and oversubscribed, they say.
Evidence also exists showing that the cost of surgery can be offset by savings due to the decreased need for treatment and medications for obesity.
However, they say uncontrolled surgery in the public sector could lead to increased waiting list times and budget overruns.
One solution, they say, is to “focus on surgery to treat sickness rather than fatness”.
“Body mass index alone is not as good a selection criterion as the presence of serious obesity-associated conditions that are inadequately responsive to standard medical therapies,” they say.
The authors proposed that instead of selecting patients just by Body Mass Index, the final recommendation for surgery should be based on serious accompanying conditions such as diabetes.
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