Another sad story in the news today. The ongoing obesity problem now means that many people cannot be transported to hospital by ambulance as they are simply to big. The more overweight a person is, the more likely they are to need emergency hospital treatment at some point in their lives.
The ambulances are being resigned to accommodate larger patients. Modifications to ambulances include improved lifting apparatus, reinforcing vehicles and fitting wider stretchers.
Some ambulance services have bought specialised “bariatric ambulances” that are designed to take larger patients. These cost around £90,000 per vehicle though. These ambulances that carry the morbidly obese are able to support weights up to 50 stone (700 pounds, or 318 kg).
All the modifications to carry obese patients cost a lot of money. Inflatable lifting cushions cost £2500 and large stretchers cost around £10,000.
Central South Ambulance Service has spent over £1 million in the last 3 years upgrading 120 ambulances. Nigel Wells from Central South said that the average weight of patients in his ambulances has increased from around 12 stone to 18 stone in the last 10 years. This is a massive increase in a short time. Providing stronger and bigger ambulances is necessary for the safety of both patient and medics.
This highlights yet another increased cost that obesity is causing. Higher levels of obesity led to increased medical bills and now more expensive A&E services.