New Hospital for the Obese in Battersea Given Go Ahead

Riverfront offices on Lombard Road to be converted

16 Lombard Road, Battersea
16 Lombard Road, Battersea. Picture: From documents provided to Wandsworth Council

February 25, 2021

Wandsworth Council has approved a new private hospital treating obesity problems, despite concerns it will not help local people and will only be used by the super-rich.

The planning committee discussed the application by The Smart Clinics to convert offices on Lombard Road by the riverfront in Battersea into a new hospital at last Wedneday night’s meeting (24 February ).

The Smart Clinics already have two premises in the borough on Bellevue Road and Northcote Road, and also have another under construction within the Battersea Power Station redevelopment.

In their application they argued their clinic – which also provides complementary cosmetic surgery – would relieve pressure on the NHS, particularly as obesity increases the risk of a number of other health issues.

However the borough’s public health lead, in his report on the application, was sceptical of how much use the facility would be in the borough.

He wrote: “Levels of adult obesity (in Wandsworth) are below London and England averages. We don’t have a significant problem in terms of adult obesity, but rather in children.

“From a health point of view the clinic would not make a lot of difference, the clinic would probably be for private clients, however most of our obese adults are those living in poorer neighbourhoods and estates.”

Labour councillors Annamarie Critchard and Tony Belton also raised concerns.

Cllr Belton said he didn’t “see the local demand” and noted the hospital was close to London’s only licensed heliport, Edmiston London.

“It seems to me that a quick flight in from Heathrow and then by helicopter and there you are, a nice lovely private facility.”

He added: “If your recovery is pretty fast, in normal times a quick visit to a West End theatre and the posh shops all thrown in. I think that’s about the level of it.

“Of course one should not necessarily be against bringing business in and high-paying business, but don’t let us pretend it’s got much to do with local demand because that’s just nonsense.”

Site where private hospital for obese people is to be builtSite where private hospital for obese people is to be built. Picture: Google Streetview

Chair of the committee, cllr Guy Senior, said planning guidance makes no distinction between private and public health facilities and that he “welcomed the job creation” on the site.

He added: “I know it’s quite common for the NHS to refer people to private facilities for treatment if there isn’t capacity in the state service so it could be a win win for everybody, couldn’t it?”

The application was approved with eight votes in favour, one against and one abstention.

The hospital will be used to specialise in bariatric or weight loss surgery to treat people clinically diagnosed as obese.

This can include gastric bands and bypasses as well as sleeve gastrectomies.

A gastric band is where a band is placed around your stomach so you do not need to eat as much to feel full, whereas a bypass joins the top of your stomach to the small intestine so you feel fuller sooner and do not absorb as many calories from food.

In a sleeve gastrectomy some of your stomach is removed, so you cannot eat as much as you could before and you’ll feel full sooner

The hospital will have two operating theatres and 11 rooms and there will be a maximum of six patients per day.

According to their website, a medical membership for the Smart Clinics is from £70 a month.

Sian Bayley, Local Democracy reporter