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Hip and knee ops delayed

25th November 2010

Patients needing hip and knee replacements in England are having their operations delayed.

Wheelchair

A number of primary care trusts have begun restricting hip and knee operations by reclassifying them as low priority putting them in the same category as ganglion cysts and varicose veins.

The British Orthopaedic Association president Peter Kay said: "We have seen a number of PCTs up and down the country bringing in policies to limit the chances of patients coming through to hospital. Patients are being taken off waiting lists and having their cases reviewed."

However, he raised concerns that the delays were often leading to patients’ conditions getting worse and affecting the outcome amid evidence that early intervention produces a better result.

Warwickshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) has made changes to such operations and GP Dr Francis Campbell, a GP and chair of the PCT's Professional Executive Committee, said the health trust had spent money it had not got.

“If we carried on like this we would be doing 13-14 months of work in one year so we have put in a place a policy that enables us to get back where we should have been at the end of the year,” he said.

The trust is looking to bridge an £80m gap in its finances and says it is prioritising patients who it feels really needs an operation.

Some 94,946 hip operations were performed in England in 2009/10 compared with 78,479 in 2003/04. The average wait for a hip operation is 77 days compared with 212 in 2003/04.

 

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Peter Foy

Thursday 25th November 2010 @ 15:05

Actually, in my understanding, the numbers are nearer 150,000 to 200,000 primary hip and/or knee operations performed each year. As well as the human cost of pain and suffering, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of illness in the UK affecting over 8.5 million people and are responsible for in excess of 11 million lost working days at a cost to society, in 2007 prices of over £7 billion. It is the sixth-largest area of NHS expenditure, at over £3.3 billion annually and accounts for over 30% of patients who visit their GPs and 40% of all recorded pain.


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