Statewide Bariatric Surgery Initiative

Evidence from across the world shows that there are a range of medical problems associated with obesity, including diabetes. While prevention is always the major focus in the management of diabetes and obesity, recent studies show that bariatric (weight loss) surgery is a highly effective treatment for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that it can be more effective than medical treatments and can deliver much improved diabetes control or even resolution of diabetes in many cases.

Queensland Health is launching an initiative where people with obesity and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes who are aged 18-65 and are currently receiving public hospital specialist treatment for a condition that may be reversed or improved by bariatric surgery, may be eligible for assessment for surgery. This initiative ensures a more equitable approach across Queensland public hospitals in how people can access assessment for bariatric surgery.

How do I access an assessment for bariatric surgery?

There are referral criteria that you will need to meet to be referred for an assessment for surgery and provide you with a referral. You must:

  • be aged between 18-65 years of age
  • have type 2 diabetes and are not reaching treatment targets
  • have a BMI more than 35kg/m2
  • already be seeing a public hospital specialist for conditions that may be improved through bariatric surgery

Some people that meet the above referral criteria may have conditions that will increase the risk of surgery to an unacceptable level. These people will not be offered an appointment. In addition, people that have had previous bariatric surgery (including lap band surgery) will not be eligible for bariatric surgery under this initiative.

Talk to your public hospital specialist about whether a referral may be appropriate for you. If your specialist believes that surgery may be an option for you, they will complete all the paperwork to submit a referral. Your general practitioner (GP) is not able to submit a referral under this initiative.

Frequently asked questions

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric or weight loss surgery includes a variety of procedures that may assist people to lose weight. The most common procedures involve removing a portion of the stomach (gastrectomy) or surgically changing the course of the gastrointestinal tract to bypass a section of small bowel (gastric bypass). Bariatric surgery has the potential to significantly improve health outcomes for obese people with diabetes, especially when coupled with healthy eating and lifestyle changes after surgery.

Why offer bariatric surgery to people with diabetes?

International research shows that bariatric surgery is a highly effective treatment for people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. A number of studies confirm that the surgery can significantly improve diabetes control and in many cases it can result in resolution of diabetes. This can significantly improve the lives of people with diabetes and reduce the incidence of diabetes related complications.

How were the criteria developed?

A multi-disciplinary team of experienced health professionals including GPs, specialists, nurses and allied health professionals applied their vast clinical expertise to the most current Australian and international research to develop criteria for determining patient eligibility. Strict adherence to eligibility criteria ensures equity and will help achieve the most significant health benefits for the individual and the wider community.

How can I access bariatric surgery?

Your public hospital specialist will determine if you meet the referral criteria and are appropriate for a referral. If you are eligible for a referral you will be contacted directly by your specialist. You do not need to contact your hospital or specialist.

Will all referred patients be offered an outpatient appointment?

Not everyone that is referred will be offered an outpatient appointment. If you meet the referral criteria and your specialist submits a referral, the details on your referral will undergo a clinical review using an evidence-based clinical assessment tool. This allows the prioritisation of people that will receive the most clinical benefit from bariatric surgery. People that have been referred and also meet the clinical assessment criteria will proceed to be offered an appointment to discuss bariatric surgery. Some people may meet the referral criteria but may be assessed as not meeting the clinical assessment criteria to proceed to an appointment. In these cases both you and your referring specialist will be notified and your specialist will be provided advice on other treatment options that may be available to you.

Does it matter where I live?

All Queensland residents who are currently seeing a public hospital specialist for a condition that may be improved through bariatric surgery will be fairly and equitably assessed for bariatric surgery in accordance with the referral criteria. Surgery will be offered to people who will benefit most, regardless of geographical location.

Where will the surgery be performed?

During the two year project, the surgery will be performed in Brisbane. Some appointments will be offered by telehealth where appropriate.

For more information

If you’d like more information talk to your public hospital specialist at your next appointment.

Last updated: 5 February 2018