"Weight loss services"

About: St Helens NHS Walk-In Centre

(as the patient),

Having suffered from depression for much of my life I helpfully explored the reasons thoroughly within psychotherapy within the private sector: however following a traumatic fall I developed various health problems including arthritis and fibromyalgia. These drastically affect my energy levels and mobility and as a result I gained weight and currently need to lose weight.

In spring 2014 I felt ready to shift the weight and asked my GP to refer me to the health promotion team who gave me details of local healthy living walks, exercise classes and an appointment with a weight loss adviser who I saw 3 times. As a result of the support I started to lose weight consistently but when I arrived for the 4th session I was told the person I had been seeing had left. I was disappointed and explained to the replacement that I did not need information on calories, portion sizes, reading food labels, etc but found support helpful... The person gave me a number of leaflets on how to lose weight - which I was already doing- and arranged another appointment: however when I arrived I was told the weight loss service locally had been sold off to a private company.

I was asked to complete about 15 pages of questionnaires about depression, my sleep pattern, activity level, eating patterns etc and I felt frustrated. I understood the reasons for my over-eating but remained optimistic that in time I would be offered support. I was asked what I would find helpful and I said brief regular individual appointments but that I did not enjoy being in a group - after a few weeks I received a letter offering me a place in a group... I phoned to ask whether there was any alternative and was told to attend the first meeting of the group and if I did not think it would be helpful to tell one of the counsellors at the end of the meeting. By now I was feeling disillusioned by the lack of supportive relationship and my weight was rising.

I attended the first session and we were told the group was intended for people who had yo-yo dieted and struggled with weight issues all their lives and that we would look at reasons why. I felt frustrated - I have not struggled with issues about weight throughout my life, have never yo-yo dieted and already understand the reasons for my over-eating as a result of psychotherapy. When the group finished I explained my situation to the leader and asked whether it would be possible to see someone individually for brief regular appointments. I was told they would discuss that with the supervisor and get back to me, after a month I had not heard anything and phoned the company who again said they would get back to me but again I heard nothing further. By now I had re-gained most of the weight I had previously lost and was feeling disillusioned about being unable to get more of the support I had previously found helpful.

During the summer I began going to the gym, then on Healthy Living walks when I could get to their start point and joined the Ramblers - I was walking 7m fortnightly but despite that my weight remained stable and high.

By the end of the winter I was feeling depressed by my inability to shift the weight and as I struggle without support I contacted Health Promotion who made an appointment with one of their advisers who I could see at the clinic my GP practice operates from. I was pleased as that is within walking distance of my home, an important factor as sometimes fibromyalgia and arthritis make walking any distance difficult.

At the appointment i was given details of activities and said it would be possible for me to see someone regularly about weight loss - I was delighted! I joined weekly circuits class and last week had my first appointment with the weight loss adviser who gave me more leaflets on how to lose weight... and said I could see someone from the food clinic fortnightly at the clinic. However when I telephoned today to make another appointment I was told the food clinic no longer operates from the clinic and appointments are now at another place in town. As I often struggle to get out and about and don't have regular use of the car on Fridays I would find it difficult to attend.

I feel so frustrated - it is disappointing and painful to find I am offered support only to have it then removed - and if the first priority with health services is not to do harm then services not to let patients down repeatedly as that certainly is harmful.

It seems that within local NHS services one hand does not know what the other hand is doing - from the patient's perspective it feels chaotic, damaging and a waste of public money!

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