Morecambe dad's weight loss journey in preparation for vital surgery

A Morecambe dad who shed the pounds before undergoing surgery is singing the praises of a new NHS project.

By Debbie Butler
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 3:41 pm

Jeff Huggins, 51, had some brilliant results from the Set for Surgery programme after he was referred for gallbladder surgery.

The Set For Surgery programme is a unique system that allows GP surgeries in Lancashire and South Cumbria to link up with the hospitals providing treatment for their patients, and gives patients targeted actions to work on with their GP before their operation.

The service has been piloted in Morecambe Bay since December 2020 and is now being rolled out to everyone on waiting lists in Lancashire and South Cumbria following positive patient feedback

Jeff Huggins before he lost weight.

When a patient is referred for treatment, the hospital or treatment provider uploads information on how the patient can get healthier for their surgery to a dashboard. 197 GP surgeries (94 per cent) in Lancashire and South Cumbria have signed up to an information-sharing agreement with the hospitals, and will have access to this dashboard so they can work with their patients to get them Set For Surgery.

In addition, patients will have access to SetForSurgery.co.uk, which can signpost them to health advice and services to support them in their pre-operative journey.

Jeff Huggins’ pre-op journey began when he started experiencing stomach issues. He was being sick every day as well as feeling both physically and emotionally unwell.

"Functioning day-to-day was really difficult,” he said. “I was so exhausted and I wasn’t able to care for my daughter as well as I needed to.

Jeff Huggins after his weight loss.

“I was admitted to hospital three times with gallbladder issues. My doctor wanted me to lose weight first. She spoke to me about the benefits, both for the surgery itself and for my recovery afterwards. I knew I needed to do this as it was the safest and most sensible approach.

“After the surgery, I made a really good recovery. There was no need for readmission and I’m relieved keyhole surgery was possible. My recovery as a result was much quicker and less risky and I’m glad I followed the doctor’s advice and lost weight prior to my surgery.

“The gallbladder operation has made a positive impact on my life now. I feel much better, I am back caring for my daughter and enjoying pursuits I’d missed so badly whilst I was poorly.”

Leading the programme, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Consultant General Surgeon, Wendy Craig, said: “We carry out hundreds of operations each month and it is clear that patients who have a higher level of general health and fitness are able to recover more quickly. This is better for everyone as it means patients can return to their own homes and lives more quickly, with fewer complications and readmissions - and we are able to free up space in our hospitals for those still on the waiting list.

“This service is massively beneficial to patients, and also reduces pressure on the NHS, freeing up time and resources to reduce waiting lists further.”