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RCS responds to sharp rise in requests for knee and hip surgery being turned down

19 Jul 2018

The BMJ has found an increasing number of patients seeking knee or hip surgery are finding they can’t have their operation on the NHS.  Nearly 1,700 requests were rejected last year, a 45% increase from 2016-17. 
Doctors apply to CCGs for exceptional funding if the CCG requires specific criteria to be met before patients are referred for certain treatments or procedures.

Data obtained by The BMJ under a Freedom of Information request show last year 1,675 exceptional funding requests by doctors on behalf of their patients (1,188 for knee surgery and 487 for hip surgery) were rejected by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). 

Responding to the findings, Mr Ian Eardley of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“Hip and knee surgery has long been shown to be a clinically and cost effective treatment for patients. We are therefore appalled that a number of commissioning groups are now effectively requiring thousands of patients to beg for treatment. 

“Use of the individual funding request mechanism also seriously undermines the historic decision-making process; decisions about treatment should be made between a doctor and a patient, not by a panel that may not meet the patient.

“The use of funding requests means patients will spend more time in pain with potential deterioration of their condition, thereby generating further costs for a system already under acute financial strain. NHS England should issue clear guidance to commissioning groups, setting out the limited circumstances in which an IFR should be allowed.”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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