Gastric band patients: We've been abandoned by NHS health trust
PEOPLE who had gastric bands fitted for health reasons believe they have been abandoned by the health trust that paid for their surgery.
Patients who had the weight loss surgery on the NHS have now been told that they will no longer have their routine check-ups and emergency appointments at Spire Hospital Bristol.
But those affected told the Post that no-one can tell them who will be responsible for their care in the future or who will pick up the bill.
Dean Hope, of Saltford, had his gastric band fitted two years ago because of his diabetes.
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"Just out of the blue I was told that NHS B&NES wasn't going to continue funding our care at the Spire Hospital any more.
"I had a letter from Spire saying that we would no longer be going to them for these appointments and that I would need to go back to my doctor but he said he had heard nothing."
Mr Hope, a hairdresser, said he had experienced problems with his gastric band which had required an emergency appointment and was told that had he not had the emergency procedure he could have died.
The 51-year-old was 22-stone before he had the procedure, and had tried to lose weight but struggled to shift it. He has lost five-stone since the band was fitted and his diabetes has improved.
"I think the NHS has a duty of care after they have done the operation but we don't know what is going on. We don't know what to do."
Nicki Coll, 34, was born with a disease that caused her hips to deteriorate, causing weight to be an issue for her.
She has already had hip replacement surgery and said her doctor had advised her to have a gastric band so that she did not put too much weight on her hips.
"They got me the funding to have it done because it is not about being vain but because of my hips," she said.
"I remember asking them whether this was for life, because with the cost of the operation and follow-up I would not have done it if I had thought the maintenance would not be covered.
"If I had known it would be £150 a time if there were problems with my band and to pay for X-rays I would never have gone for it."
Ms Coll, of Saltford, said that she has attempted to contact NHS Bath & North East Somerset to find out how the care and maintenance of her gastric band will be managed in the future but has not had any conclusive answers.
"NHS B&NES said to go to my GP who would put in for my funding," she said.
"But when I went to my GP they had received no notification of it at all.
"I then contacted B&NES again and they could not tell me in an emergency where to go. I've been informed that some hospitals there could be a five-six month wait and by then I could be dead."
Esther Hope, 53, had her band fitted two years ago after her doctor recommended it to help ease the arthritis she has in her knees.
The nail technician said: "Since I've lost weight I've become a lot better and I have not been to the doctors since I asked for the band.
"But the fact that we won't get the back-up and we aren't getting any answers at all.
"If they weren't going to follow it up at the same place they should have sent us somewhere else for the operation."
A spokesman for NHS B&NES said that the decision to move maintenance of gastric bands from the private hospital was made by the South West Specialised Commissioning Group after a review and all patients would be given several options of where they could have their follow-up appointments in the future.
He said: "The NHS does and will continue to look after these patients as part of our duty of care."