May 2020 – COVID-19 HSE Press Response, Prime Time

National Obesity Management Clinical Programme

Obesity and Covid-19

Press Response-18th May 2010


  • Would you be able to provide us with the most up to date figure of the % of patients admitted to ICU to date, with a BMI of 40 or over? 
  • Do you have the same figure for those who were hospitalised with covid-19? Is there an age bracket breakdown available for patients who have a BMI of 40 or over as an underlying condition? 


On 6th May 2020, Department of Health issues an update on the underlying conditions of the first 327 COVID-19 ICU admissions (People may present with one or more underlying conditions)


  • 165 people (50% of the total) had chronic heart disease
  • 76 people (23.2%) had chronic respiratory disease
  • 74 people (22.6%) had diabetes
  • 53 people (16.2%) had a Body Mass Index of more than 40
  • 34 people (10.4%) had asthma requiring medicine
  • 31 people (9.5%) had cancer
  • 20 people (6.1%) had chronic renal disease


Further inforamtion may be available from HPSC


  • Also, can you please clarify what the position is re bariatric surgery – will these surgeries start being scheduled again from next week?
  • The National Obesity Management Clinical Programme has been working with obesity services in Dublin and Galway. Bariatric surgery has not been performed in St Vincent’s University Hospital since March 2020. The bariatric surgery service in Galway University Hospital was stopped prior to Covid 19.
  • The Clinical Programme will be highlighting the importance of bariatric surgery in the management of severe and complex obesity to the HSE and requesting that services should resume as soon as possible.
  • Do you have the most up to date figure of how many people in Ireland are currently on the waiting list for bariatric surgery?


The general pathway for bariatric surgery in HSE is as follows:


    1. Person with severe and complex obesity is referred by their GP or another health professional to a specialist weight management service. At present there are 2 services nationally, in Ireland East Hospital Group and Saolta Hospital Group. At this service, the person is assessed and receives medical and multidisciplinary treatment for obesity. If the person wishes to be considered for bariatric surgery and are approved by the team, they are referred for bariatric surgery.
    2. Once they are referred for surgery, the person must then be approved by the surgeon and psychologist.
    3. Once approved by the surgeon and psychologist, the person is added to a waiting list for their surgical procedure.


In Ireland currently, there are:


    1. 1800 people (IEHG) waiting to attend specialist weight management services which are the pre-requisite to bariatric surgery.
    2. An additional 500 people (Saolta) that have attended weight management services and are waiting to see a surgeon and psychologist for approval for bariatric surgery.
    3. 399 people (229 IEHG & 170 Saolta) assessed and approved by the surgeon and psychologist on waiting lists for bariatric surgery.
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Susie Birney

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