Health services throughout the United Kingdom are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on specialist ambulances to help obese patients.
Health services throughout the United Kingdom are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on specialist ambulances to help obese patients, the BBC has reported. Specifically, the NHS is purchasing heavy-duty 'bariatric' ambulances at a cost of between £60,000 and £90,000 per-unit. The West Midlands Service alone has ordered four vehicles, at a cost to tax payers of over £300,000.These bariatric ambulances carry reinforced stretchers that support patients weighing up to fifty stone. These, by default, are wider than standard stretchers but their width can be increased further by adapting the framework and adding mattress extenders. These double- width beds cost between £7,000 and £10,000 each, and are increasingly important to help emergency response teams cope with larger patients. Further equipment upgrades, which can be retrofitted to standard-size ambulances, include reinforcing the vehicles' tail-lifts at a cost of £800 per-unit. Ambulance crews are also being issued with heavy-duty hoists at £4,500 each, stronger wheelchairs at £400 per-unit, and £2,500 inflatable cushions to lift obese patients from the floor. Every ambulance service in the UK is now sourcing this or similar equipment, according to information obtained by the BBC. There is no sign of an immediate end to Britain's obesity problem, so bariatric ambulances and their heavy-duty equipment are likely to become a common sight. Inevitably, these specialist tools will be funded through taxation, so the long term financial cost to each of us may be considerable.