A RISE in obesity in Swindon has forced the Great Western Hospital to shell out nearly £85,000 since 2010 on larger equipment to care for overweight patients.

This comes after it emerged that the NHS chiefs across the UK spent £5.5m over the last three years adapting hospitals and buying specialist equipment to handle larger patients.

In Swindon the Great Western Hospital Trust invested £84,300 between 2010 and 2013 on heavyweight beds, chairs and hoists.

And over time, the amount of equipment needed increased.

In 2010-11, health bosses spent £18,000 on three 47st heavyweight hoists. The following year they purchased a pair of 50st heavyweight commodes worth £800.

2011-2012 saw the biggest investment with £55,500 spent on a heavyweight ICU bed, 44 new weight-bearing waiting room and patient chairs as well as 14 extra-wide patient bedside chairs.

In 2012/13, a further 12 extra-wide patient bedside chairs were ordered worth £10,000.

While this proved minor compared to other trusts across the country who went as far as buying reinforced beds, widening corridors or buying larger morgue fridges, it has meant tens of thousands of pounds were ploughed into offsetting the burden of growing obesity levels on day-to-day operations at the hospital.

And with obesity showing no sign to decrease or plateau, more could be spent in future.

“As lifestyles change we are seeing an increasing number of heavier patients and have therefore invested in new equipment so we can effectively treat these patients.” said a Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman.

“A few years ago we invested in a selection of equipment which is suitable for heavier patients including waiting room chairs, hoists and commodes, however this equipment can be used by most patients.

“The trust has an advisory group made up of a range of staff including porters, hospital equipment staff, nurses, dietitians, pharmacy staff and colleagues from the community who regularly review the care of heavier patients.

“The trust held an awareness day in June to raise awareness among the public and staff of weight management, bariatric care and the specialist equipment available.”