Australian Hospitals Aren’t Equipped to Meet the Demands of Obese Patients

Asia-Pacific, Built Environment, News, May 24 2018

Hospital medication tube and bag

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

AUSTRALIA: Obesity and related disabilities are on the rise in most countries, and Australia is no exception. With almost two in three Australian adults qualifying as overweight or obese, the issue has become an epidemic in the country. Obesity puts both children and adults at risk of developing a myriad of chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

Unfortunately, hospitals are having difficulty meeting this new demand for specialty services. Many overweight or obese Australians are unable to access resources that they need to care for health complications and succeed in their weight loss goals.

A Lack of Resources

Australian hospitals only offer a small number of obesity services for patients, and a limited number of spots are available. There are strict entry criteria that patients have to meet to qualify for specialty services. Wait times can also be months to years for patients, especially those living in rural areas without easy access to professional medical services.

recent study by researchers at Western Sydney University for the Clinical Obesity Services in Public Hospitals (COSiPH) Working Group discovered that even though many Australians are eligible for obesity services, only a small fraction have access to these services due to cost, location or wait time. What’s more, available services vary greatly between medical centers, so hospitals in more remote areas often offer inadequate care and lack adequate resources.

Solving the Issue

The Clinical obesity paper outlines some ways in which health care providers can better adapt to the changing face of the industry as more and more patients call for specialized care. Dr. Evan Atlantis, head of the research team, states:

“The experts that responded to this study reached a consensus on the need for significant improvements in obesity medicine – this includes education and training for staff; improved physical infrastructure and access to services; and more targeted research funding.”

By improving staffing, infrastructure, and hospital funding, Evan believes that Australia can tackle its obesity epidemic. Perhaps the best way to combat obesity, however, is at an educational level. By teaching people how to live a healthier lifestyle, healthcare professionals can ensure that their patients live a longer and happier life.

As Australia’s obesity epidemic continues to grow, its hospitals are struggling to meet the complex health demands of an increasingly overweight society. Through staff training initiative, improvements to hospital infrastructure, and a reorganization of funding, there’s hope that hospitals may be able to expand their specialized care services. More importantly, though, are educational initiatives designed to help Australians live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Written by Jane Sandwood, a professional freelance writer and editor.

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