Patients hail bariatric surgery support service

A team of health professionals newly assembled at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital is helping overweight patients lose weight and improve their health following bariatric surgery.

“I must stress this surgery is done for health benefit, quality of life and longevity- it is not cosmetic surgery” commented Consultant bariatric surgeon Simon Monkhouse.

There is now good evidence from research conducted at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden with trials published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in that surgery is the only reliable way to ensure sustainable weight loss for very overweight/obese patients in the long-term. Diets and medications are short term solutions but often result in rebound weight regain.

Consultant bariatric surgeon Mr Simon Monkhouse launched the service at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in March, bringing together a multidisciplinary team comprising a bariatric nurse, award winning dietician and a psychotherapist­­­­­­ to help patients succeed in their goal of reducing weight long-term.

The service includes a two year follow-up care package and lifetime membership of the bariatric support group that meets monthly. A member of the team is always contactable to help with any issues or offer advice and support. Patients are followed up by the bariatric nurse specialist every four weeks and can contact the team anytime via text and email.  Further patient support is available via the online forum at

Bariatric surgery patients are already hailing the success of the scheme. In March, Eve King became the first patient at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital to receive the new care plan. After surgery, a delighted Eve commented: “The care and support I received pre and post op was truly amazing. The team is very caring; nothing seems too much trouble and Mr Monkhouse in particular is highly approachable and personable.”

Copthorne resident David Showell, 53, underwent gastric band surgery at the end of April. Five weeks later, he has lost 11 kilos (24 lbs).  “I feel less tired and full of energy,” he reports. “I hadn’t expected to lose weight so­­­­­­ quickly and don’t feel hungry between meals or the need to pick – it’s a great feeling.”

Oxted patient Clarice Martin opted for a gastric bypass, undergoing surgery in early April. “Originally 19.5 stone (273 lbs) Clarice now weighs in at 16.5 stone (236 lbs) and aims to lose seven stone. “My back pain has gone, my asthma has improved, overall fitness and confidence is much better and I am able to go shopping for fashionable clothes. Before the operation, exercise was a challenge. I now go for walks and swim regularly.

”The Spire Gatwick Park Hospital team are all very knowledgeable and reassuring, with the dietician offering good suggestions and portion control. The psychotherapist is a real help to sort your head out pre- and post op. They work with you as a team.”

Horsham resident Lorraine Chard had tried different diets to shift her excess weight but kept re-gaining weight.  A mum with a 7-year-old daughter, chef Lorraine found it hard not to graze throughout the day.

She was worried about her health and lack of energy and had reached 23 stone when she was recommended for a gastric band following much research online and consultations with Mr Monkhouse and the specialist team.

”I was told I could lose up to  50% of my excess weight over the next 18 months – about seven to 10 stone overall to reach my target weight,” she says.

Mr Simon Monkhouse added: “Lorraine seems determined and focused to lose the excess weight. We talk to patients in depth about the procedure and its possible complications and give them a four week cooling off period in order to ensure that all decisions to proceed are well thought out and reflected upon. Patients will see the psychotherapist to explore the emotional angles and this is vital to ensure success going forward. Surgery is not an easy option and the decision to proceed is necessarily complex.”

Gastric band patients can lose up to half their excess weight in the two years after surgery although this depends on a number of factors, not least the continuing motivation and dedication of the patients. Some research suggests that patients can lose up 80% of their excess weight in the two years after gastric bypass surgery.

Two weeks before surgery, after consultation with the dietician, patients are put on a liver reduction diet as the organ must be reduced in size in order for the surgery to proceed,

Lifelong commitment to losing excess weight is critical for patients’ health and to achieve long-term success following surgery. Key to the post-operative programme is the “20, 20, 20, wait a minute” rule, explains specialist bariatric nurse Kay Wheeler, patients’ first point of contact at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.

”After surgery, each mouthful of food should be chewed 20 times (to a mash potato style consistency), each meal must have about 20 mouthfuls and last for 20 minutes, leaving a minute between each mouthful.” 

“Post op, if patients eat too quickly, food can be regurgitated and be painful if not chewed enough. Sweet foods such as chocolate should be reduced to a minimal amount. It’s very important that patients are made aware of some of the life changes this surgery means”.

The surgery usually involves an overnight stay in hospital and full recovery can be expected for most patients within two weeks. Adds Mr Monkhouse: “I really enjoy meeting each patients post op. Their confidence grows as their shape changes.”

Bariatric surgery can also bring other health benefits. The ‘STAMPEDE trial’ recently published in the New England Journal show­­­­ed that a gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are more effective at improving diabetes than medication and diet alone.

For further information on procedures and surgery at Spire Gatwick Park, phone 01293 778 906 or email

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