A Newcastle specialist in bariatric surgery says the region is not getting its fair share of publicly funded weight loss operations.
A national study has shown the Hunter has one of the worst obesity rates in New South Wales.
The research which provides a breakdown of obesity rates by local area shows higher rates of obesity are linked with geographic remoteness and lower socioeconomic status.
The Hunter’s obesity rate is 33 per cent, compared to areas such as Sydney’s north shore and eastern suburbs where the rates are around 15 per cent.
Bariatric Surgeon, Tim Wright says the study highlights the unfairness of Medicare funding when it comes to treating morbid obesity.
“If you live in some parts of the country you have got more access to public obesity surgery than in other areas,” he said.
“In Newcastle we hardly do any public bariatric operations and that’s purely because we don’t have the funding for it.”
He says government funding of bariatric surgery is not being allocated to the regions of highest need.
Dr Wright says it is unacceptable that the Hunter is missing out due to a lack of funding.
“More than 95 per cent of operations being done in Australia are being done just in the private sector, there’s very few being done in the public system.
“It becomes a bit of a political hot potato when you look at which areas need this surgery most it’s the areas that are least likely to be able to offer it.”