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Can I get weight loss surgery on the NHS?

The short answer is yes, weight loss surgery, including gastric bands, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery, can be available on the NHS.

Tagged: Weight Loss

Can I get weight loss surgery on the NHS?

It is a common question posed by many people who are considering weight loss surgery - is the treatment available on the NHS?

The short answer is yes, weight loss surgery, including gastric bands, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery, can be available on the NHS. 

But in reality, securing funding for any NHS treatment is not that straightforward. There is a strict list of criteria that a patient must meet in order to qualify for NHS-funded treatment and this criteria varies, depending on which part of the country you live in. Securing NHS funding for weight loss surgery can be a bit of a postcode lottery.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which sets the guidelines for all surgery provided on the NHS, recommends that weight loss surgery should be provided if the patient meets all of the following criteria: 

  • They have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI between 35 and 40 and a serious weight-related health condition that might improve as a result of surgery (ie type 2 diabetes)
  • Other weight loss methods, such as dieting and exercise, have failed
  • They agree to long-term follow-ups after surgery, including making healthy lifestyle changes and regular medical check-ups
  • They are fit and healthy enough to have a general anaesthetic
  • They are receiving or will receive treatment from a specialist obesity team

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If a person has a BMI of 50 or above, they may be considered for surgery on the NHS without needing to try any other weight loss methods (ie diet and exercise) first.

If you have a BMI of below 35, you may still qualify for weight loss surgery on the NHS. If you have been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, particularly if you have a south Asian background, you may be assessed to see if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.

But ultimately all of this boils down to whereabouts in the country you live as this criteria can vary between different NHS Trusts.

Healthcare budgets are controlled by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). These bodies have to decide which treatments and programmes to pay for with the funds they receive from the government. These priorities and levels of funding vary in different CCGs. You may qualify for NHS funding in your home town, but if the next town falls under a different CCG, then a person in the same position as you may find themselves judged under different criteria and may not qualify.

Unfortunately the NHS has been, and continues to be, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. High levels of staff sickness has had an impact on waiting times across the board. And, just like the NHS treatment criteria, these waiting times vary from hospital to hospital. You could potentially be facing weeks or even months of waiting for your weight loss surgery on the NHS. And any new waves of Covid-19 infections may result in this wait getting even longer.

Of course it is not the fault of the NHS, but if faced with a lengthy weight for treatment, you may find that any obesity-related conditions that you may already have, such as type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, deteriorate. And the longer the wait, the longer you continue to be at risk of serious, perhaps even life-threatening, health problems, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnoea, joint problems and infertility. The wait may exacerbate any mental health problems too, particularly depression and anxiety, which are commonly associated with people who are very overweight or obese.

Because of this, many people choose to go to a private clinic for their weight loss surgery.

Words from our clients:


At the Cadogan Clinic, there is no waiting list for weight loss surgery, so providing you meet the criteria, you can have the procedure promptly. This means that you can start your weight loss journey sooner and lower your risk of serious disease.

Although you will have to pay for your weight loss surgery, many feel that it is a price worth paying in order to tackle a very serious health concern quickly and effectively.

Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we offer the following as part of your weight loss surgery.

  • Up to two 60 minute consultations with a leading surgeon at our award-winning premises in Chelsea
  • Your procedure carried out at London’s leading specialist cosmetic surgery centre of excellence
  • 24/7 on call nurse assistance
  • Dedicated Patient Co-ordinator, as a personal point of contact through your journey with Cadogan
  • A pre-operative medical assessment to ensure you are fit for surgery  
  • Comprehensive post-operative aftercare courtesy of our specialist team.

If you are considering the Cadogan Clinic for weight loss surgery in London, then book an appointment with one of our experts who will be able to discuss the options with you.

And one final word of advice. Please don’t be tempted by cheaper prices for weight loss surgery  offered by overseas clinics. Often the standards at these clinics are not as strict as the clinics in the UK, all of which are highly regulated. Aftercare is not always straightforward either, with some countries providing poor standards of follow-up care, if any at all. The consequences of having botched weight loss surgery at an overseas clinic can be severe. There may be serious complications which could require further treatment or surgery. The Cadogan Clinic strongly recommends not going overseas for this type of surgery. It is simply not worth putting your health at risk in order to save what is realistically only a small amount of money.


Treatments mentioned in this article

Gastric balloon is a weight loss procedure that involves placing a saline-filled balloon into the stomach, filling a large area and making less room for food.

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Gastric banding is a popular form of weight loss surgery, suitable for people who are very overweight or clinically obese.

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A gastric bypass is an invasive surgery designed to help you lose weight if all other methods, such as dieting and exercising, have failed. It is a major surgery.

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Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the stomach, therefore reducing the amount of food that can be consumed.

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