SERVICES: Overweight patients who need surgery in parts of Hertfordshire can now be referred to local slimming groups in a bid to kickstart their weight loss.

GPs from Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group can refer patients with a body mass index of over 35 to Slimming World or Weight Watchers groups for a funded 12 week course.

Nicolas Small, GP and chair of HCVCCG, said “GPs in this area want to make sure our patients get the very best results from surgery. So earlier this year, we introduced a programme that meant very overweight patients were asked to lose weight before going for routine surgery. We know that in most cases, people who are at a healthy weight have better outcomes from surgery than those who are not.”

After 12 weeks the patients can either continue to lose weight independently or pay to continue attending the groups. The pilot scheme will be evaluated after nine months.