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Revealed: Britain‘s top surgeons for hip replacement

By Angela Brooks Last updated at 3:43 PM on 17th August 2010

Want to know if your surgeon is up to scratch? Under new plans announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last month, patients should be able to check surgeons’ results against the national average.

Nowhere could this be more vital than in the area of hip replacement. Of the 71,000 hip replacement operations carried out in England and Wales every year, 10 per cent are ‘revision’ operations  –  where the implant is removed and replaced.

This is because the original surgery failed as a result of infection, dislocation or loosening of the implants.

Old couple jumpingSpring: It’s the op that should put the bounce back into your life – but it can go wrong, so which surgeons are the best?

While poor implants play a role, it’s often the surgeon who’s to blame. The difficulty with revision hip surgery is that it’s a far more complex procedure, with less chance of success.

That’s because bone and muscle can be lost in removing the failed implant. This makes it harder to secure the revision hip  –  it will either not last as long, or your mobility will be compromised, causing a limp.

Clearly, it’s in patient’s best interest to limit the chances of revision hip surgery.

But good hip surgery is not just about avoiding this negative outcome; it’s also about ensuring the patient ends up with a pain-free hip and their mobility is restored.

The best way is to vet your prospective surgeon from the start, to try to make sure they get consistently good results.

Unfortunately, the new proposals about making this information public are a good two years from becoming reality. to help you in the meantime, Good Health set itself the task of hunting down the surgeons all over the country judged to be outstanding.

We felt those best placed to tip the very best would be leading hip surgeons themselves, so we canvassed the views of the top practitioners and asked them: ‘If your own nearest and dearest were to need total hip replacement, to whom would you refer them, and why.’

Of course, this is only a guide, not a scientific study  –  there are many superb and highly-skilled hip replacement surgeons all over Britain who didn’t make it into our top ten, but who spend every day of their working lives giving patients new hips likely to provide a lifetime of painless and trouble-free service.


Here are the top ten hip replacement surgeons, as voted by their peers, in no particular order. All work in the NHS and privately.


Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, Exeter

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: Everything he does is to the highest level, from the preparation through to the procedure and aftercare. He is the leader of evidence-based hip surgery using tried-and-trusted techniques.

There are four hip surgeons at Exeter and all are outstanding. This unit has pioneered and refined the way we do hip replacement in this country.


Northern General Hospital, Sheffield

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM:  He performed the revision hip replacement on leading surgeon Martyn Porter, and you don’t get a much better recommendation than that. He is a good, clear thinker on challenging cases and an extremely capable operator who has done a lot of groundbreaking work on infected hip replacements.


Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, Exeter

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: Often works as a team with John Timperley. Internationally-renowned and clearly the best hip surgeon in this country at the moment.

He’s an academic, but a brilliant surgeon, and every hip surgeon in the country would acknowledge that. He’s got what we call ‘the hands’, the economy of effort and has very high technical skills.


Wrightington Hospital, Wigan

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: He is a senior orthopaedic figure, but what’s important is that he inspires trust and he’s got it all, great technical skills and the kindness and empathy to go with it.

This surgery is all about what you can do with your hands and he puts his implants in very well. His after-surgery X-rays prove it  –  they are superb.


Allwood Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HER: She replaced the Queen Mother’s hip 20 years ago and probably does more hip replacements than anyone else in the country.

She is an outstandingly efficient and gifted surgeon with huge experience  –  but bedside manner is not her strong point. This won’t be a problem for some patients, but others might feel they need more feedback.


Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: A compassionate, caring man and a very deep thinker with a considered approach. He treats his patient as a whole, not simply a hip.

Does lots of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and young people born with hip problems who’ve had previous surgery from childhood, which can make them very challenging cases.

He is very gentle with handling the soft tissues, which means there is little bruising and trauma and less bleeding, too.


St. George’s Hospital, Tooting, London

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: One of the younger, up-and-coming hip replacement surgeons. Very careful and gives a huge amount of consideration to what he does.

He carries out complex revision surgery and takes on cases other surgeons absolutely would not. He provides a superb service.


Southampton General Hospital

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: A top performer, a superb all-rounder, combining excellent surgery with an academic foundation  –  he wants sound evidence of the long-term results of any implant before he’ll consider putting them into his patients.

He is very unusual in that he has a very humble approach to treating his patients.


St. George’s Hospital, Tooting, London

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: A quietly-spoken man who works as a team with Philip Mitchell.

He has vast experience of primary hip replacements, but also does a lot of complex revision hip surgery, which means he has a full understanding of the reasons why hips fail and will do his absolute best to make sure his hip replacements are successful.


Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: He performs more hip replacements than most others in the country and has developed a wonderful, almost factory-like, conveyor belt for doing this.

What he has done is to standardise the procedure to an excellent level for the 95 per cent of patients who need straightforward hip replacements.

This means he can also devote the necessary time to the 5 per cent with more complex needs.




Nottingham University Hospital

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: Conscientious and technically very good. He has a considered approach, which gets good results. Well-organised in surgery, which means that if plan a doesn’t work as it should, then he will have a plan b.


Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, Norwich

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: He is excellent and has a well-deserved reputation. ‘I know my relatives would be in good hands with him.’


Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: He developed the birmingham Resurfaced hip [an alternative to hip replacement where the worn out joint is capped] and is a very good surgeon technically.


Conquest Hospital, Hastings

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HIM: Meticulous, with enormous experience and excellent results, which he presents at orthopaedic meetings [surgeons with poor results would not open themselves to such scrutiny from their peers].