Hospitals must be prepared to deal with obesity in a 'predictable way' - leading expert

Dr Donal O'Shea says that around 2% of Irish people are "in the grade three of obesity"

Hospitals must be prepared to deal with obesity in a 'predictable way' - leading expert

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A leading obesity expert has said Irish hospitals should be ready to deal with obesity "in a predictable way, not in a reactionary way".

An Irish Independent report suggests more hospitals are being required to invest in"extra-large equipment and furniture capable of holding patients weighing up to 50 stone". 

The paper highlights costs such as a reinforced operating table worth €75,542, and extra-large cushions costing around €150.

Donal O'Shea, chair of the Royal College of Physician's Policy Group on Obesity, spoke to Pat Kenny about the situation.

"2% of the population has a body mass index over 40 - that is in the grade three of obesity - and you have to expect therefore that 2% of the people coming through the door are going to require accommodating in that regard," he explained.

"Hospitals need to just anticipate that and be ready for it [...] And we know that people with a severe degree of obesity are more likely to need hospital care, so it's going to be more than just 2% of admissions."

He added that "hospitals should be ready for that in a predictable way, not in a reactionary way."

He also suggested that reports over the costs of hospital facilities to deal with obesity are being 'sensational'.

"I think they're part of the ongoing stigmatising of what we now know is a predominantly environmentally driven condition."

He also observed: "The hospital spec for any piece of kit is really high - it's not just a cushion you go into Dunnes Stores to buy. It has to be infection proof, it has to be top of the range fire resistant.

"So a standard hospital cushion you'd probably find is €125, and then an outsized one is a marginal increase," he added.