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Hip operations only for those in so much pain they can’t sleep under new NHS rationing plans

Laura Donnelly, health editor 26 JANUARY 2017 • 4:04

Patients needing a new hip will only be operated on if they are in so much pain they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks under new NHS rationing plans.

The Royal College of Surgeons said the restrictions were “alarming” and “arbitrary” – ignoring the extra costs from delaying treatment and prolonging pain.Vice-President Stephen Cannon said there was “no clinical justification” for drawing up rules which would force pensioners to endure increasing pain and misery amid a growing financial crisis.

Three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the West Midlands have drawn up plans to dramatically cut the number of people who qualify for hip and knee replacements, in a bid to save £2m a year.

Patients in pain would only receive surgery if they were in such agony that they could not sleep or carry out daily tasks, while the most obese will be told they could only have surgery if they lost weight.

The CCGs are aiming to cut the number of people who qualify for hip replacements by 12 per cent, with a 19 per cent drop in knee replacements.

Mr Cannon said: “The CCGs’ policy decision to restrict access to NHS care, based on arbitrary pain and disability thresholds, is alarming. “It is another example of how the huge financial strains the NHS is currently under are directly affecting patients. It is right to look at alternatives to surgery but this decision should be based on surgical assessment, not financial pressures,” he said.

The college said it was  concerned that the latest policy was “just the tip of the iceberg” with rising numbers of areas limiting surgery to those most in pain.“

Although the CCGs claim this will save them £2million a year, this overlooks the longer term impact on patients of delayed treatment, prolonged pain, and potentially higher costs of treatment. For example, patients affected by these changes may require additional pain relief medication, and may still require surgery further down the line, which may be more complex,” Mr Cannon said.

Full Article & Source: Hip operations only for those in so much pain they can’t sleep under new NHS rationing plans 

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