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Sunderland professor’s leading role in bariatric surgical care

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Published on 11 December 2023

Professor Yitka Graham
Professor Yitka Graham

The International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) is the global scientific organisation bringing together health experts involved in the treatment of patients living with severe and complex obesity.

IFSO is composed of 73 national societies of bariatric surgeons and Integrated Health professionals, such as nurses, practitioners, dieticians, nutritionists, psychologists and anaesthetists. In 2023, a separate Integrated Health Section was formed, to increase support and development of integrated health professionals working in bariatric and metabolic surgery.

Professor Yitka Graham has been an active member of IFSO for nearly a decade, developing and collaborating on bariatric and metabolic surgical research, and supporting health professionals internationally.

She has now been appointed as Chair of the IFSO Integrated Health Professional Guidelines Committee, leading an international team to develop guidelines and consensus statements for bariatric surgical care, whilst highlighting the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, and supporting Integrated Health workforce development in the care of people living with metabolic and bariatric surgery.

Yitka, who is also Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute at the University of Sunderland, is actively involved in bariatric surgical research, exploring patient experiences of life after bariatric surgery, the stigma of obesity, workforce issues in multidisciplinary care, and long-term follow up of patients.

Her PhD was a successful collaboration with the bariatric surgical unit at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, where she is the Trust Honorary Lead for Health Services Research. Her bariatric surgical research was a REF2021 Impact Case Study and has been published and presented globally.

Yitka says: “This is a transformative time for IFSO and for Integrated Health Professionals working in bariatric multi-disciplinary teams across the globe. I am proud to be Chair of the Integrated Health Professional Guidelines Committee, working together with my international colleagues to develop evidence-based guidelines to further demonstrate the value of multi-disciplinary team working and the impact of the individual integrated health professions informing bariatric patient care.”

Manuela Mazzarella, Chief Operating Officer of IFSO, says: “I am delighted to see the IFSO Integrated Health community grow in numbers and structure. Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is successful only when it is carried out through a multidisciplinary team of surgeons and Integrated Health Professionals. The Integrated Health Section recognises the great work being carried out across our five chapters and within individual professions and will develop further resource to grow our multidisciplinary approach to patient care. I wish Yitka and her team every success in her new role.”

Silvia Leite Feria, President of IFSO Integrated Health Section, added: “This is an exciting time for IFSO and I am proud to be leading the Integrated Health Section and working with Yitka to further support and recognise the positive contribution of our Integrated Health Professional members in metabolic and bariatric surgical practice.”

Professor Laura Stroud, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Academic Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing at the University, commented: “I’m delighted to hear of Yitka’s appointment.  As Chair, she will draw on her considerable expertise of working in the field to further raise the profile of the Integrated Health Professional workforce in this important area of healthcare.”