Why people may have to wait a long time to get Wegovy on the NHS

Wegovy, a new medication for weight loss, has generated real excitement due to its effectiveness in clinical trials and will soon be available on the NHS. However, the lack of specialist weight management services within the NHS could lead to a long wait for many people

Today’s news that NICE has authorised the availability of Wegovy as a tool of weight management in the NHS is huge for the weight loss sector and the UK is one of the first countries in the world to make this available through its national health service. But people shouldn’t get too excited yet!

NICE has recommended the use of Semaglutide, also called Wegovy, to adults with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 and have at least “one weight-related comorbidity” such as diabetes or hypertension - but the medication can only be prescribed as part of an “NHS specialist weight management service.”

Unfortunately, the UK has very few so-called “Tier 3” weight management services and it is unclear how Wegovy could be prescribed in most parts of the UK. 

Maybe this is why the NICE press release announced “Thousands of people will soon be able to be prescribed a drug to help them lose weight….” while millions of people would fit the qualifying criteria. 

Wegovy works by substantially changing the metabolic system (and the clinical trials showed an average weight loss of 15% over 68 weeks). It has known side effects (such as nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting) and the clinical trials were conducted by hospitals providing full nutrition, physical activity and psychological support. 

That’s why people should only take Semaglutide (and any other form of GLP-1 medication, such as Saxenda) within a specialist weight management service, of the sort provided CheqUp. 

We help people all the way through their weight loss journey. We offer unique programmes tailored to individual’s lifestyles and diets which are designed and delivered by leading obesity specialists, some of whom led the global clinical trials. 

Wegovy is licensed for weight loss in the UK by the medicines regulator, the MHRA and should be available for private prescription in the UK later in the spring. There is no date published yet for when it will be available on the NHS and, even then, there’s no guarantee that people will actually be able to access it.

Published: 08 March 2023