Larger hospital mortuary fridges needed due to obesity crisis
19th June 2014
obesityThe worrying UK obesity crisis has been further highlighted by the fact that it has emerged hospitals are being forced to purchase specialist equipment to keep corpses cool in mortuary fridges because the bodies are simply too big. Due to a burgeoning obesity crisis spreading around the UK with poor diet and inactive lifestyles on the rise, the NHS are spending millions as hospitals are now having to increase the width of corridors, as well as provide lifting equipment and stronger, reinforced beds to cater for the ever-growing number of obese patients. Figures acquired by The Telegraph show that NHS funds have been depleted of least £5.5 million in the last three years so that hospitals can be adapted to cope with the increasing number of larger patients coming through their doors. This has led to some health experts warning that the cost of treating overweight and obese patients may soar to at least £10 million annually as waistlines continue to expand. Around a quarter of adults in Britain are believed to be obese, and predictions state this could spiral to more than half the population within the next three decades. A Freedom of Information request describes how hospitals are being forced to buy specialist beds, wheelchairs, commodes and crutches for larger patients. For instance, a Yeovil District Hospital NHS Trust had to spend £15,000 on a bariatric body cooling system, a storage facility for the bodies of obese patients when they are unable to fit into regular sized mortuary fridges. Last year Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, also had to spend more on a bariatric body store fridge for obese patients, forking out £30,000 for the fridge and an extra £20,000 just to strengthen an operating theatre floor. Meanwhile, Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust had to widen their corridors so obese patients could fit through them, at a cost of £80,000, whilst Milton Keynes Hospital were paying £65 each day to hire a bed fit to hold the weight of a patient weighing nearly half a ton (400kg). The National Obesity Forum’s Tam Fry said that NHS costs for obesity are only going to rise. He said: “We are not seeing the end of the obesity problem and people are getting fatter. It has got to such a point that so much now has to be widened and strengthened. That runs to beds, hoists, wheelchairs and operating tables. And it also includes ambulances, morgues and crematoriums.” Mr Fry added: “I think these costs will continue to increase. The problem is what we saw as “big” 20 years ago is now normal.” Dr Aseem Malhotra, a director of Action on Sugar, said: “Inaction is not an option. I think diets should be made part of health policy. We need to tackle the root cause, the food environment - otherwise we will be crippled by the cost.”