Ambulances for the obese

West Midlanders who live in fear of ill health, not because of hesitations about local treatment, but due to worrying if their sheer weight will thwart their transit to hospital, needn’t fear any longer. The West Midlands Ambulance Service is now fully equipped for those who weigh in at 19 stone or more with three vehicles especially adapted for obese patients, costing taxpayers £100,000 (Birmingham Mail, 19th July). These larger folk shan’t be without expert assistance either, as 60 ambulance staff have been trained to use the new equipment and employ the new techniques required.     

The initiative can be found across the West Midlands with Worcestershire hospitals forking out £80,000 for reinforced beds, wheelchairs and walking frames, all capable of bearing up to 50 stone.

The news of these measures was released alongside the latest obesity figures that rank the region as the most obese in the UK and forecast that by 2010 the numbers will have risen by 14%. This expense seems to have been written off as an investment for a future where presumably overweight or ‘bariatric’ patients as they are to be known, will make up a substantial amount of inpatients. 

Obviously these patients need medical care and to be treated with a degree of sympathy, but there is a defeatist attitude toward projected figures of obesity in the West Midlands at the heart of this move, as health chiefs clearly have little faith in the impact of Government health-drives and the numerous initiatives emphasising the need to eat healthily that have received substantial funding in recent years. Predictably, the heavy costs resulting from a lack of official hands-on action to combat spiralling obesity falls to the taxpayer.


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