Patients with obesity must not be stigmatised when health system tackles backlog, doctors warn

Doctors are warning against stigmatising patients with obesity when non-Covid health treatments are re-started.
Patients with obesity must not be stigmatised when health system tackles backlog, doctors warn

Doctors are warning against stigmatising patients with obesity when non-Covid health treatments are re-started.

The Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ISCNM) has issued the warning, saying they are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19.

It says they need equal access to treatments as the health system begins to tackle backlogs and organise new appointments.

St Vincent's University Hospital consultant surgeon Helen Heneghan says people with obesity should not be on a lower priority list.

"It behoves us to provide timely care for all of these patients, we shouldn't be prioritising one patient or one disease ahead of another," said Dr Heneghan.

"Patients with the disease of obesity already experience significant stigma in their everyday lives including in healthcare situations and they must not be stigmatised in the restart of non-Covid health treatments."

The ISCNM says over a million people here live with or are at risk of the complications of obesity.

It says due to the progressive nature of diabetes, delaying surgery can increase future health complications and even earlier death.

Dr Heneghan says we need to introduce international guidelines on prioritising surgery here.

"The guidelines recommend that people with the disease of obesity and its complications are prioritised into different categories.

"For example, surgery within 30 days for patients who have complications from previous metabolic or bariatric surgery.

"Then surgery within 90 days for patients with substantial risk of complications from obesity particularly Type 2 diabetes which is poorly controlled."

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