Leicester hospitals invest in heavy-duty beds for obese patients
Two new super-size hospital beds have been bought to cope with obese patients.
The beds, which cost £16,000, are strong enough to take the weight of someone weighing up to 60 stone.
Bosses at Leicester's hospitals said the beds are among a number of items of specialist equipment needed to cater for overweight patients.
Andy Lewitt, manual handling advisor at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "The beds are not just stronger, but we are also able to expand the width.
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"However, it is not just about weight but also about how capable a patient is.
"An increasing problem is that we are finding that more of our patients are just too wide for the standard beds, which take a weight of up to 30 stone."
As well as beds, the trust is having to buy wider chairs.
It now has a stock of 40 chairs with 28 in-wide seats which can accommodate someone weighing up to 40 stone.
This compares to the average chair, which is 22 ins wide and can take up to 23 stone. The chairs also have special padding to prevent patients from developing pressure sores. In addition, the trust has 48 commodes, which cost £120 each and can take someone weighing up to 60 stone.
There is also a dedicated operating theatre equipped with specialist tools which might be needed."
Mr Lewitt said: "We have been monitoring the need for heavy duty equipment since about 2006. We have certainly seen a lot more use of the equipment and this usage is climbing every year and has really taken off in about the past five years.
"The equipment is in use most days. We used to hire in things such as beds but more and more are looking to buy.
"It gives us the flexibility to transfer it between wards and the three hospitals as needed."
In the past six years the trust has spent about £78,000 on the specialist furniture, known as bariatric equipment, and includes two extra-large wheelchairs at each of the city's three hospitals.
Mr Lewitt said: "This is saving on about £100,000 which we were paying a year on renting equipment.
"You could spend millions and I would always like more equipment, but I am confident that the vast majority of patients' needs are accommodated with what we have at the moment.
"In some instances it might mean, with a very big person, that their bed takes up more than one space and that can make them even more conscious about their weight.
"We don't want them to feel they are causing a big problem.
"We have never had a case where we can't find equipment to keep them safe."
A spokesman for East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) said two vehicles capable of carrying obese patients are based in Leicestershire.
He said all new ambulance vehicles are also capable of taking a stretcher for very heavy patients and which allow extra width, but Emas is waiting for these to be supplied.