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HIQA are looking for comments on referral thresholds for gastrointestinal procedures

Draft recommendations have been published.

Image: obese via Shutterstock

THE THRESHOLDS THAT should be met before people are referred for gastrointestinal procedures are up for discussion.

The Health and Information Authority is asking for comments on draft recommendations.

HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment, Dr Máirín Ryan, said:

“Despite significant increased activity by general surgery and gastrointestinal services over recent years, demand continues to exceed resource availability, with consequent pressure on waiting lists.”

He explained how because of this the Health Technology Assessment wants to ensure “that the right patients receive referral and treatment at the right time”.

HTAs aim is to ensure, in particular, that unnecessary referral is avoided in those people who are unlikely to get additional benefit from intervention over other treatment options.

On RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Kieran Keeley, who received a gastric sleeve operation – where a certain part of the stomach is removed to restrict the size- spoke about his experience.

He explained how he was 37 stone and almost bed bound. As a father of two – he said family life was really difficult:

I wouldn’t have gone to school plays or to see them play football. I was too embarrassed and worried about what might be said to them.

He explained that since the surgery, “I have no interest in food, the addiction to food is gone”.

Kieran lost over 20 stone and said the weight is still coming off.

I can lead a normal life. I don’t have to be scared anymore, I don’t have to be scared of people.

He also explained how it can be very difficult for someone who is obese to get the money together for the surgery themselves:

Obese people can’t get loans out because we are too high of a risk.


Doctor Ryan said, “It’s intended that these reports will provide clarity around referral for GPs, other referring doctors and their patients.

Public and healthcare professional consultation on the draft recommendations is therefore important and we will revise the reports as appropriate based on feedback received.

The consultation on these draft recommended referral thresholds for scheduled gastrointestinal procedures will run until 29 August 2014.

The reports, along with details on how to take part in the consultation, are available from www.hiqa.ie.

Read: Taoiseach accused of ‘insulting’ morbidly obese people>

Read: What can be done to tackle rising obesity in Ireland?>

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