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More CCGs restricting patient access to hip and knee replacement surgery

23 Feb 2017

The HSJ is reporting today that South Cheshire and Vale Royal clinical commissioning groups have set out new referal criteria for hip and knee surgery, requiring patients to have a body mass index lower than 35 to be referred for the procedures. There are also newly introduced thresholds dependent on a patients' pain and functional limitation. 

Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“Yet again at a time of mounting pressure on the NHS, CCGs are using arbitrary pain thresholds and a patient’s weight as a way of delaying access to potentially life changing surgery. This appears to contradict NICE’s own guidance and recent comments by its Chair Professor David Haslam that issues like smoking and obesity should not act as a barrier to referral.

“This is particularly short-sighted for hip and knee surgery which remains one of the most cost-effective and beneficial interventions in medicine. CCGs increasingly seem to be taking this route in an attempt to reduce costs, but this policy only delays surgery and overlooks the potential costs from pain relief medication.  

“Patients need more detail on what the proposed primary care joint school is, and whether this is just a new and inventive way of prolonging a patient’s wait to receive surgery. This decision might only result in patients waiting additional months for surgery with more stress and pain.”

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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