Tens of thousands more NHS patients could receive ‘game-changing’ weight-loss drug, Rishi Sunak announces
- The NHS is launching a £40 million two-year pilot scheme to try to tackle obesity
A ‘game-changing’ weight-loss drug could be rolled out to tens of thousands more patients, Rishi Sunak announced yesterday.
In a bid to tackle obesity and cut waiting lists, the NHS is launching a two-year pilot scheme to explore ways to make obesity medication available outside hospital.
Backed by up to £40million in funding, the initiative will see how GPs could safely prescribe the drugs and at ways the NHS could provide help in the community or digitally.
Watchdogs have already approved a weekly jab of a drug called semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy. Patients lost around 15 per cent of their body weight when prescribed it alongside diets, physical activity and behavioural support.
It could be used instead of a gastric band or other weight-loss surgery, reducing the burden on hospitals and saving the health service millions of pounds. NICE recommended its use by adults with a BMI of at least 35 and one weight-related condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
A ‘game-changing’ weight-loss drug could be rolled out to tens of thousands more patients, Rishi Sunak announced yesterday
In a bid to tackle obesity and cut waiting lists, the NHS is launching a £40 million two-year pilot scheme to explore ways to make obesity medication available outside hospital
The drugs rationing body advised that it should be available only via specialist weight management services, which are largely hospital-based, meaning around 35,000 patients would have access.
But the Government yesterday said tens of thousands more could be eligible if use of the drug is extended to patients outside hospital. Mr Sunak said: ‘Using the latest drugs to support people to lose weight will be a game-changer by helping to tackle dangerous obesity-related health conditions.’
The Government hopes that tackling obesity will contribute to cutting waiting lists by reducing the numbers suffering from weight-related illnesses.
The obese can need operations linked to their weight, such as gallstone removal or hip and knee replacements. Around two thirds of England’s adults are above the healthy weight limit, defined as a BMI of 25.
An estimated 12million are obese and a further 16million overweight, according to the 2019 Health Survey for England.
Sir Stephen Powis, the NHS’s medical director, said: ‘Pharmaceutical treatments offer a new way of helping people with obesity gain a healthier weight and this new pilot will help determine if these medicines can be used safely and effectively in non-hospital settings as well as a range of other interventions we have in place.’