UK's first dedicated weight loss surgery clinic opens
The UK’s first dedicated bariatric clinic opens this week in the grounds of BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, near London, England.
The clinic, which has been designed and opened by leading weight loss surgery group Streamline Surgical, was created around the needs and requirements of bariatric patients and aims to set a new standard for the treatment of obesity in the UK.
Facilities such as The Sudbury Clinic have existed in the US for many years and with the opening of The Sudbury Clinic, Streamline Surgical and BMI Healthcare are acknowledging a new approach to the effective management of obesity.
To read the latest edition of Healthcare Global, click here
- WHO warns illegal organ trade is increasing rapidly
- Customer service staff to get dementia training
- Gene discovery could lead to contraceptive pill for men
Founded by three of the UK’s leading consultant bariatric surgeons, Mr Shaw Somers, Mr Guy Slater and Mr Chris Pring, The Sudbury Clinic is designed to improve the patient experience, both physically and psychologically during their pre and postoperative care.
The clinic offers a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment for patients and the team understands completely the needs of a bariatric patient and ensures that all patients are treated with care and compassion whatever stage of their weight loss journey they are at.
Specialist features in the clinic include larger doorways, sofas and examination beds that have been subtlety designed to meet the needs of the bariatric patient while creating a homely and inviting interior.
The seats in the waiting room have been raised four inches higher off the ground and can support up to 50st in weight.
The clinic's weighing scales also measure up to 80st, compared with the standard 25st.
Commenting on the opening of the clinic, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon and Co-Founder, Mr Shaw Somers, said: “The UK obesity epidemic is following the lead of that from the US and for several years public attitudes there have recognised the condition as an illness.
“Having worked as an NHS Surgeon for many years, I, along with many of my colleagues recognise the huge burden that obesity places on our resources, both directly and indirectly.
“We want our patients to feel that they have somewhere to go that is designed to make them feel comfortable and can accommodate their needs in a subtle way.”
He continues: “Centres like The Sudbury Clinic have long existed in America, and with the obesity epidemic in the UK growing rapidly, it is important that we offer a concrete support network for our patients.”
The Sudbury Clinic will provide specialist bariatric care for all patients and its multi-disciplinary team of surgeons, doctors, nurses, dieticians and psychologists will be supported by the expertise and facilities available onsite at BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital.
Executive Director of BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital, Jan Hale, added: “The opening of The Sudbury Clinic highlights the emphasis being placed on the issue of obesity by both BMI Healthcare and The Clementine Churchill Hospital.
“Obesity represents one of the biggest threats to health and wellbeing of the UK and for many patients, whom dieting, exercise and medications aren’t enough to bring their weight down to a safe and lasting level, surgery can be the only viable option.
“Many patients who are considering bariatric surgery face an unusually high level of anxiety and stress and we hope that this new clinic will become the model for the UK healthcare market place,” she said.
“By addressing the needs of our patients we hope to support them in every way along their journey to a longer healthier life.”
The Healthcare Global magazine is now available on the iPad. Click here to download it.
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined.
Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.
Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short.
Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.
It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.
It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.
For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.
The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.
Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.
Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.
Disconnected information systems
While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration.
A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.
By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.
Political influence and social equality
As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.
In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.
However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.
Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution.
The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.