Fat loss clinic 'costs taxpayers £60 per 1lb'

AN OBESITY clinic has been branded a “massive drain on taxpayers’ cash” after figures revealed that every pound lost by patients costs the public almost £60.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has criticised NHS Rotherham after the Rotherham Institute of Obesity (RIO), spent £775,000 treating 1,800 overweight patients in the past 18 months.

However, an NHS spokeswoman called the figures “misleading” as many people had only just started the programme and still had more weight to lose.

RIO, which is based within Clifton Medical Centre at Doncaster Gate in the town centre, was established in 2009 to give advice and support to obese Rotherham folk about how to lose weight.

In total, patients at the centre have lost 6,100kg, equating to 3.38kg each.

Charlotte Linacre, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said that the initiative had not worked.

“It has done a fat lot of good and been a massive drain of taxpayers’ hard earned cash,” she said.

“At almost £60 per 1lb lost this is a very expensive way to shift extra pounds, at a time when the NHS doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds to spare.

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“These figures show that sadly the Rotherham Institute of Obesity does a better job at losing money than losing weight. People need to take personal responsibility for healthy eating and exercise rather than relying on the state.”

Joanna Saunders, head of health improvement, said that RIO had helped many people make “lifestyle changes.”

She added: “It has been running for over a year and has seen more than 2,000 people who have achieved weight losses on average of 7lb per person to date.

“The aim is to change their dietary and exercise habits. Therefore we would expect people to continue to lose weight once they have finished the programme or go on to access lower level community based weight loss services.

“For many people RIO is the start of a long journey and as anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, changing diet and exercise habits can take time for the results to become apparent.

“We have great success stories with some people losing as much as 50lbs while others, who may have only just embarked on the programme, have lost less weight.”

Currently in Rotherham two in three adults and one in three children are categorised as overweight or obese.

Mrs Saunders added: “People completing the programme at RIO are invited back after six months to assess their progress.

“NHS Rotherham continues to review the services and the experiences of patients and will use this information to improve and develop the services.

“Any intervention that leads to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes or stroke has to be considered value for money.”

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