NHS Healthcare Workers Offered Training After Dozens of ‘Fat-Shaming’ Complaints

Photo credit: Thana Prasongsin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Thana Prasongsin - Getty Images

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will be offered training on raising weight issues with patients in a sensitive manner after dozens came forward to complain about ‘fat-shaming’ language used by NHS staff in 2020.

NHS trusts received at least 63 formal complaints about the way staff spoke to people in their care last year, Freedom of Information requests have revealed, with the true number potentially much higher as some refused to disclose figures.

A doctor at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust allegedly told a woman she was morbidly obese because of ‘the crap she eats’, according to the Daily Mail, while a junior doctor at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust reportedly told a patient: ‘You need to lose weight. You are very hairy and that is because you are overweight.’ (continued below)


At East Midlands Ambulance Service, an employee is said to have told a patient: ‘There is no way I’m carrying you – you weigh too much for us to be lifting you down the stairs.’ At Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust, a woman claimed a nurse laughed at her when she said she tried to maintain a healthy weight, allegedly adding: ‘Well obviously not.’

In the wake of these complaints, The Royal College of Physicians is hosting a free two-hour training course for NHS staff, where they’ll receive advice on discussing the topic sensitively and without using stigmatising language.

‘It’s important that doctors and other healthcare professionals raise the topic of weight given the many and often very severe risks obesity can pose... but they must do so sensitively,’ said professor Rachel Batterham, a special adviser on obesity at the college.

‘They need to explain that obesity is a complex medical condition and that losing weight will improve their health and to offer appropriate help.’

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