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New report shows fall in hip replacements due to rationing

14 Mar 2017

A new report by the King’s Fund has found that the number of hip replacements conducted by the NHS has gone down despite an increasing older population. National data for 2015/16 shows there has been a one per cent decrease in hip replacement activity compared to the previous year. Only on one other occasion since 2000 has there also been a drop. The King’s Fund have suggested that pressures in hospitals are leading CCGs to look at various ways to manage demand for high volume procedures, and that this “may be starting to affect patients’ access to care.”
Commenting on the King’s Fund report, Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who will also be speaking at the launch event said:
“Over the last year we have seen CCGs taking the alarming step of restricting hip replacement surgery for patients that smoke, are overweight or aren’t yet in agonising pain. We welcome any attempt by the NHS to help overweight patients to lose weight and smokers to stop smoking, but patients need support to do this rather than being  stripped of their rights to timely NHS surgical care. Today’s report gives figures which show that we are starting to see the serious impact of the CCGs decisions. Hip replacement operations are now declining despite an increasing ageing population.
“The NHS is under increasing financial pressure, but such pressures do not excuse these short-sighted restrictive decisions. Hip surgery is one of the most cost-effective medical treatments available on the NHS .Restricting surgery simply delays the inevitable, whilst simultaneously adding to the overall cost, often prolonging the use of pain relief, severely impacting the quality of life for the patients and, particularly amongst the elderly, increasing the need for social support.
“We know pressure on the NHS is not going to subside any time soon, but CCGs should reverse misguided restrictions which are not evidenced based before patient care is put further at risk. NHS England must make clear to all CCGs that restricting patient access to hip surgery is unacceptable.”

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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