This article was originally published here
Obes Surg. 2021 Sep 10. doi: 10.1007/s11695-021-05633-1. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Europe consists of 51 independent countries. Variation in healthcare regulations results in differing challenges faced by patients and professionals. This study aimed to gain more insight into the accessibility, patient pathway and quality indicators of metabolic and body contouring surgery.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Expert representatives in the metabolic field from all 51 countries were sent an electronic self-administered online questionnaire on their data and experiences from the previous year exploring accessibility to and quality indicators for metabolic surgery and plastic surgery after weight loss.
RESULTS: Forty-five responses were collected. Sixty-eight percent of countries had eligibility criteria for metabolic surgery; 59% adhered to the guidelines. Forty-six percent had reimbursement criteria for metabolic surgery. Forty-one percent had eligibility criteria for plastic surgery and 31% reimbursement criteria. Average tariffs for a metabolic procedure varied € 800 to 16,000. MDTs were mandated in 78%, with team members varying significantly. Referral practices differed. In 45%, metabolic surgery is performed by pure metabolic surgeons, whilst re-operations were performed by a metabolic surgeon in 28%. A metabolic training programme was available in 23%. Access to metabolic surgery was rated poor to very poor in 33%. Thirty-five percent had a bariatric registry. Procedure numbers and numbers of hospitals performing metabolic surgery varied significantly. Twenty-four percent of countries required a minimum procedure number for metabolic centres, which varied from 25 to 200 procedures.
CONCLUSION: There are myriad differences between European countries in terms of accessibility to and quality indicators of metabolic surgery. Lack of funding, education and structure fuels this disparity. Criteria should be standardised across Europe with clear guidelines.