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Public views needed to help shape future specialised surgical services for morbidly obese patients across the North West

Patients, carers and the wider public are being asked to help develop future services for people requiring specialised NHS weight loss surgery across the North West.

Specialised commissioners, working on behalf of the region's primary care trusts, want to hear people's views about the kind of services which should be offered to people with morbid obesity, and whether or not certain patients should be prioritised above others.

They also want to know whether patients undergoing weight loss surgery (known as bariatric surgery) would be willing to travel further to have their operation at a centre in the North West, as long as they could have their follow-up appointments in settings nearer their homes.

A web-based survey has been set up to encourage people to have their say. The survey is open until 30th December 2011 and can be accessed via http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NYJ5PX3

The survey is just one of the ways in which commissioners are gathering views about specialised weight loss surgery in preparation for a major procurement exercise aimed at developing a North West surgical service. It is hoped that by carrying out a region-wide tender, any inconsistencies in patient referrals will be eradicated, and that patients will have equitable access to the same high quality care, regardless of where they live.

Commissioners are working closely with clinicians and patient representatives to develop services in the region, and are attending a number of patient group meetings which are held regularly at those hospitals already carrying out specialised weight loss surgery procedures.

It is expected that new contracts for specialised adult morbid obesity surgery will begin in October 2012.

Jon Develing, Chief Officer of the North West Specialised Commissioning Team, said:

"It is really important that we hear from as many people as possible during this exercise so that, as commissioners of services, we can better understand the issues which matter to this specific group of patients, and can seek out prospective service providers who can meet those needs."