How to get weight loss surgery on NHS? Criteria and waiting time.

Added by Klaudia Grabowska on 16.10.2020

Bariatric surgery is a metabolic surgery performed as a treatment for heavily overweight or obese people. For many of them, it is a last resort as a diet or exercises are not successful. Weight loss surgeries (e.g gastric sleeve, gastric band, or gastric bypass) are available also on NHS, but only when obesity is life-threatening for the patient and other non-surgical treatments were unsuccessful.

NHS logo

Some types of weight loss surgeries are available on the NHS. To be qualified for one of them the patient needs to fulfill all requirements

How to get weight loss surgery on the NHS?

The question of how to get weight loss surgery on the NHS is asked by people left hopeless where diet or exercises have not brought any results. It is relatively simple to check whether you can be qualified for bariatric surgery NHS. You just need to visit the NHS website and check the criteria that have to be fulfilled by the candidates for the surgery of weight loss NHS.

We list the weight loss surgery NHS criteria below:

  • the BMI (body mass index) is over 40 or BMI is between 35 and 40 and there are health conditions caused by obesity that can improve after weight loss (e.g. blood pressure or type 2 diabetes)
  • all-natural and non-invasive methods of losing weight (such as diet and physical activity) were tried but brought no results
  • You agree to long-term changes and follow-up after the weight loss surgery (e.g. making lifetime changes to the diet and lifestyle, attending check-up visits).
Wallet with cards

Sometimes the NHS waiting lists for the bariatric surgeries are so long that patients start looking for private clinics, but the cost of the treatment in the UK is rather high

If you think you can be a good candidate for bariatric surgery nhs England, just talk to your GP who will check whether you meet the criteria of covering weight loss surgery by the NHS. Also, once your GP confirms that you should have bariatric surgery on the NHS, he will provide you with a special referral that starts the application process. Each PCT (Primary Care Trust) has a different waiting list, so it is important to do some research or ask them directly what is the waiting time for bariatric patients – it may be 2 months or even 2 years. 

How much is weight loss surgery

The fact is that not everyone is qualified for free weight loss surgery nhs or the waiting list is so long that patients look for a private clinic to have surgery. Of course, undergoing a bariatric surgery privately is totally normal and many people choose this solution. The only issue is the bariatric surgery cost uk. This surgery is relatively expensive, so patients need to be prepared for a big expense. You may check the prices for the cheapest weight loss surgery uk HERE.

If you look for the cost of a specific bariatric surgery, please check the following:

How much does weight loss surgery cost the nhs?

weight loss surgery sign

Weight loss surgery on the NHS is free of any costs, including aftercare and follow-up appointments

The idea of getting gastric surgery on the NHS is that patients do not bear any costs. The NHS program involves not only the surgery but also the recovery time and long-term follow-up appointments, which are free for patients. To get more details regarding the NHS funding of bariatric surgeries, you need to contact your PCT and ask for such information. On the other hand, it is also worth knowing how much does weight loss surgery cost the nhs. The NHS annual cost of obesity surgeries exceeds £4,5billion. The British government is constantly increasing the budget for bariatric surgery nhs cost, just to help people with the obesity epidemic. 

Types of bariatric surgery nhs

The most frequent nhs choices for weight loss include gastric sleeve nhs, gastric bypass and gastric band. These surgeries are highly effective and minimally invasive. If you are looking for some other types of bariatric surgery nhs, you need to check whether they can be funded. Also, there have become many experimental weight loss procedures which have not been officially approved yet (e.g. pose surgery) – such procedures cannot be funded by the NHS. If you are not sure which surgery would be best, just visit your GB to get the explanation and advice on the weight loss surgeries available on the NHS.

Weight loss surgery nhs criteria

In order to get free weight loss surgery, patients must meet weight loss surgery nhs criteria. It is important to remember that each of the given criteria needs to be fulfilled, only then is nhs weight loss surgery possible. The criteria for bariatric surgery nhs are set by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) – they are:

  • bmi for weight loss surgery nhs exceeds 40
  • patients may qualify for  weight loss surgery with BMI between 35 and 40 only when they suffer from serious conditions related to or caused by obesity (e.g. type 2 diabetes or hypertension)
  • candidates must have attempted to lose weight naturally, i.e. by a diet and exercises
  • candidates must agree to attend long-term meetings and regular appointments with a support group
  • the health condition of a patient is good enough to apply general anaesthesia (sometimes people need to lose some weight or improve their health condition to be qualified for the surgery).

The bariatric surgery nhs guidelines may vary in detail across the UK, so we advise you to contact your local GP to get the detailed list with bariatric surgery nhs criteria. What is more, the criteria may vary depending on the surgery type, so we suggest asking specifically how to get a gastric band on nhs or how to get a gastric sleeve or bypass. Finally, if you do not meet all the criteria, but feel that obesity deteriorates your physical and mental health, you should not give up but still apply for the nhs surgery because there are some exceptions when people may get the nhs weight loss surgery without fulfilling all the requirements.

NHS weight loss surgery waiting list

woman writing

Weight loss surgery NHS waiting time varies across the UK and on average it is around several months

Weight loss surgery nhs waiting time varies from city to city and each year there is only a certain amount of money devoted to this sector. The waiting list depends on 2 factors: the funding amount and the number of candidates. It might happen that even if you are high on the list, there is a person whose life is seriously threatened and bariatric surgery is a life-saving surgery in this case and this person will move to the top of the list. The bariatric surgery nhs waiting times vary across the UK. On average, these are several months of waiting, however, it happens that patients wait over a year for their bariatric surgery nhs first appointment. Simply, it is impossible to predict the waiting time, so if you wonder: how long should I wait for an operation on the nhs?, it is best to contact the PCT and ask them directly.

Weight loss surgery abroad

Those who do not meet the NHS criteria for weight loss surgery or meet them but the waiting time is far too long can consider a weight loss clinic abroad. Having the surgery in a foreign country, like Poland, Lithuania or Turkey, is much cheaper than in the UK or Ireland. People are able to save over 50% of the money which they would spend on private surgery in the UK. The cheap weight loss surgery in Poland is one of the most frequently chosen procedures for medical tourists in Europe. Poland offers the highest quality, experienced bariatric surgeons, and very competitive costs, so definitely bariatric surgery abroad is something worth considering.

Weight loss surgery abroad cost

The cheap weight loss surgery abroad cost is the main reason why people travel for surgery. Please check the weight loss surgery abroad prices below: 


Gatric Band

Gastric Sleeve

Gastric Bypass

The UK

6020 GBP8000 GBP12 280 GBP


11 500 GBP17 000 GBP
19 800 GBP


8500 GBP15 200 GBP
16 800 GBP


7800 GBP9600 GBP10 800 GBP


10 000 GBP
11 500 GBP11 850 GBP


3900 GBP3000 GBP
6300 GBP


4500 GBP4750 GBP5150 GBP


4400 GBP4500 GBP
5150 GBP

Czech Republic

4250 GBP4380 GBP5200 GBP

How can I get gastric surgery abroad on the NHS?

Many people are unaware that they can have bariatric surgery on NHS abroad. It is a great solution that allows for avoiding the waiting lists and still getting free surgery. The application and organization of such a surgery is fairly easy. The most important aspect is that the destination country should belong to EEA (European Economic Area) – these are all EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. Also, as with the domestic NHS surgery, patients need to meet all the NHS criteria to get free surgery abroad. Such surgeries are not on-demand services, but rather life-saving surgeries, so they can be performed on the NHS only when it is medically necessary. The main bariatric surgeries performed abroad are gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. 


If you struggle with your weight and feel that bariatric surgery is the last resort, it is always a good idea to consider the surgery in a private or state hospital. We advise you to try to get the surgery covered by the NHS and at the same time recommend to look for the surgery in another country where the prices are even 3 times lower than in the UK. Do not hesitate to contact Clinic Hunter if you would like to know more details about weight loss surgery abroad. Finally, do not forget that gastric surgery will restore your health and improve your life quality, which is the most important thing!

two size plus women sitting in front of the computer


Applying for NHS Funding ‘ WLS Info,

“Can I Get a Gastric Band on the NHS?” Healthier Weight, 14 Feb. 2020,

Contributor, NT. “Weight Loss Surgery Could Save NHS £56m a Year.” Nursing Times, 2 Aug. 2019,

Grabowska, Klaudia. “Weight Loss Surgery: UK, Abroad, Options, Prices, NHS, before and After.” Clinic Hunter – Find a Clinic and Get a Treatment Abroad, ClinicHunter, 16 Oct. 2020,

NHS Choices, NHS,

NHS Choices, NHS,

“NHS Funding for Bariatric Surgery.” Weight Loss Riga, 8 Apr. 2019,

Klaudia Grabowska

Klaudia started to work for Clinic Hunter many years ago, just after graduating from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland and since that time, this job has become her biggest passion and inspiration.

She has gained necessary expertise and experience by serving patients from all over the world (mainly the UK, Scandinavian countries, and the USA), taking an active part in numerous live and video trainings with clinics in Poland, Hungary and Turkey, participating in international medical tourism conferences and events, and completing internal Clinic Hunter courses. Now, Klaudia is an accomplished patient advisor specialising in such fields as dentistry, plastic and bariatric surgery and hair loss treatment. Her main idea is helping people nad making their lives better, that is why this job brings her so much satisfaction and joy.

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