Northwick Park Hospital
Two North West London staff have injured themselves while moving patients weighing 25 stone or more, the Harrow Observer can reveal.
Now the North West London NHS Trust has ordered a specialist to visit all the wards to find out how many bariatric - the medical term for severely obese - patients there are, and what equipment is needed to treat them safely.
The document prepared for the trust's board meeting last week said: "Two staff have had time off with muscular-skeletal injuries after assisting in moving bariatric patients, but neither were off long enough to qualify as reportable incidents to the Health and Safety Executive.
"A manual handling consultant is requested to visit all wards and ascertain the level of bariatric patients coming through, what equipment and other assistance staff require.
"Feedback will initially be provided at the March meeting of the health and safety committee."
The trust, which runs Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road, Harrow, and the Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal, would not give details about how their employees sustained the injuries.
New mothers are the most likely to be brought in weighing more than 25 stone, according to the report.
It said: "The problem appears to be worse in maternity, and a meeting has been called by the maternity clinical risk manager to take matters forward."
Unison branch secretary Peter Nzekwa told the Observer the lack of equipment or training for staff dealing with bariatric patients had not been raised as a specific issue by union members, and that he was aware of things such as extra heavy-duty wheelchairs being available for hospital porters.
A 106-page research report on bariatric patients by the Health and Safety Executive two years ago showed that nationally 47 per cent of NHS trusts had encountered between just one and five bariatric patients in the previous 12 months.
But more than half reported staff were not aware of the existence of specialist reinforced equipment, or could not locate it.
The Harrow health profile for 2008 showed 19.1 per cent of the population were obese, compared to the English average of 23.6 per cent. Last year in Brent that figure was 21.6 per cent.