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30 December 2013, 17:05 | Updated: 30 December 2013, 17:09
Staff at Peterborough City Hospital are trying out a so-called 'Fat Suit', to improve how they deal with obese patients.
The bariatric training suit, which weighs 13lbs (6kg), is padded out to give the wearer the dimensions of a 40 stone person without the weight.
It has extra padding on the stomach, chest and bottom and can leave the wearer unable to sit up and walk properly.
Anna Rushby, 51, a core skills trainer at Peterborough City Hospital who has worn the suit, said: "The suit gets very hot so we only wear it for short periods of time.
When you are wearing it you can understand how a heavier patient must feel.
In the sessions I will wear the suit and the staff will practice getting me in and out of bed.
The aim is to increase the mobility of patients who are heavier.
We don't want them having to stay in bed all the time.
We treat the heavier patients like every other patient.
This training helps us understand their needs better in order to make them feel more comfortable.
We have a very good record of injuries to staff and patients.
We have had no incidents recently as far as I know.
But this training ensures staff are helping heavier patients in the correct way both for their safety and that of the staff.
The training is going really well - we have had a good reaction from staff."
Matron Anita Downs-Santoro, who was instrumental in getting the funding for the suit, said the hospital has no choice but to be prepared for obese patients.
She said: "The suit is very padded.
It has three bottoms, four busts and a large belly. "It is very difficult to walk in or even to sit down or go from lying down to sitting up.
It simulates the challenges bariatric patients have.
It is teaches staff how to lift and move patients.
The suit makes you really hot so people only wear scrubs underneath otherwise
it is unbearable.
At the moment we have five obese patients on one ward.
We have had both patients and staff injured.
It is important for us to understand what it is like for the bariatric patients.
All staff joining the trust are trained in how to treat bariatric patients.
They need to know how best to do things like change the sheets."
However Conservative MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson branded the suit a "useless gimmick".
He said: "It seems a ludicrous waste of money and a bit patronising.
As if staff do not know how to look after obese patients.
I think it is a waste of money.
People do not donate to laudable charities like the Friends of Peterborough Hospital for useless gimmicks.
They do it for equipment or serious issues.
What next - are they going to have a Sumo competition so they can understand what a group of fat people are like?
It seems like someone had an idea that is not very intelligent."