A new HIQA report published this week (Tues, July 26) has concluded that surgery is not only safe but may be the most effective treatment for many patients with type 2 diabetes caused by obesity, based on a review of research from around the world.
Patients benefit both from improvements in blood sugar and bodyweight, with the majority of patients having their diabetes go into remission.
Diabetes surgery also results in reduced risk of type 2 diabetes-related complications such as diabetic kidney disease and heart attacks.
Importantly patients will also need to use the health service less, thus saving the HSE money in the long term. It is estimated that at the moment 50,000 patients in Ireland could be eligible, but maybe only 5,000 may be interested in diabetes surgery, especially if this can put their diabetes into remission.
Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSEPN) Chairperson and Chair of Surgery in Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital Prof John Reynolds said: “The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) assessed diabetes surgery as a potential option for patients with diabetes in Ireland. In its report HIQA concluded that a diabetes surgery programme provided as part of the usual diabetes clinical care pathway would be a more efficient and more cost-effective use of taxpayers money compared to the usual care provided to patients.”
St. Vincent’s University Hospital and University College Dublin Obesity Specialist Prof Carel Le Roux added: “HIQA estimated that a new programme will cost €7.6 million over five years and be able to treat 200 patients per year. This can be done together with existing services and should provide end-to-end care, from referral, pre-operative assessment, the surgical episode and long-term follow-up”.
My Best Weight GP Dr Mick Crotty pointed out that the success of a metabolic surgery programme would be dependent on how well GPs and hospitals can work together. This will work best if GPs are supported to provide long-term follow-up to these patients.
Professor Le Roux added: “We often hear patients tell us that despite their using the best medical treatment, unfortunately their diabetes is slowly getting worse and affecting their liver, kidneys, or heart. Patients know if they can have diabetes surgery they can get rid of the diabetes and their organs will then improve.
“More than a thousand patients with diabetes are having this lifesaving operation in France each year. All patients need is for the HSE to follow the advice of the government experts and allow patients to be helped.”
Irish Coalition for People living with Obesity (ICPO) Executive Director Susie Birney, who had diabetes surgery herself and now lives without diabetes, commented: “Diabetes surgery is now considered to be the standard of care by the American Diabetes Association and European Association of Diabetes. With HIQA’s report showing that surgery is safe, effective, and also extremely cost-effective, there should be few barriers to implementing this treatment.
“Ireland has the surgeons, doctors, and hospitals to start doing this tomorrow. Diabetes Surgery vastly improved my quality of life, I am now off all medications with my retinopathy reversed for almost seven years now. This surgery directly saves the taxpayer money, so why are we not doing it?”
Type 2 diabetes affects more than a quarter of a million people in Ireland and is the major contributing factor to heart attacks, cancer, and early death. Treatment for type 2 diabetes alone accounts for more than 10% of the overall healthcare budget.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.
ICPO are a patient led non-profit organisation who aim to educate, raise awareness and support people living with overweight or obesity across Ireland. www.icpobesity.org