Hip Replacement Surgery: Should You Stick With the NHS, or go Private?
The challenges currently facing the NHS have been well-documented in recent years by the media, with reports highlighting extended waiting times, overcrowded wards and overworked medical staff. In light of such reports, it is unsurprising that many people considering NHS hip replacement surgery explore other options.
However, with the average private hip replacement operation costing somewhere in the region of £7,610 to £14, 980, it’s not a treatment that everybody can afford. Here’s some further information regarding both private and NHS hip replacement surgery, which is provided to help you to make a more informed decision.
NHS Hip Replacement Surgery – The Facts
- Waiting times: According to an article in the Hip and Knee Surgery News (2006), many patients requiring a hip replacement operation stand to face significant waits, and if their case is deemed ‘non-emergency’, may be deferred for as long as 17-18 weeks.
The NHS has a current target of a maximum of 18 weeks for all forms of treatment, unless it is deemed ‘clinically possible’ for you to wait longer. According to the official NHS site, if you cannot be seen by your local NHS hospital within the 18 week waiting period, you have a right to be referred to an alternative medical establishment to receive your treatment.
- Private treatment: You may be referred to a private unit for your hip replacement, whilst still having the operation ‘under the NHS’. The NHS currently outsources a significant amount of its joint surgery patients to private medical establishments. According to a recent report in The Telegraph online, treatments in private units is generally of a ‘better’ standard, with less time spent on the ward, reduced rates of re-admittance and reduced risk of complication afterwards.
In short, you may receive ‘private’ healthcare without actually paying a penny!
- Evidence of a ‘postcode lottery’? According to studies carried out in 2013 by the National Hip Fracture Audit, standards of care within the NHS vary considerably across the country, and some hospitals are falling short when it comes to providing adequate care for elderly patients during and after their hip replacement surgery. According to the study, mortality rates are up by as much as 13% in certain areas.
However, it’s important to note that in other areas of the country, mortality rates are considerably lower; many NHS hospitals across the UK are noted for their success in carrying out hip replacement treatment.
Private Hip Replacement Surgery – What You Need to Know
- Unlike the NHS, you’ll need to pay to go private, and this type of surgery is not cheap. Prices vary considerably across the country, but can be as much as nearly £15,000. For those with the available funds, this may be considered a worthwhile investment. For people without much money, it’s a significant amount, and could potentially eat into their savings.
- Reduced waiting times: Although private healthcare is becoming increasingly popular, and waiting times are becoming longer, it’s unlikely that the private sector will ever experience the same pressure as the NHS. As a result, you can anticipate a greatly reduced waiting time, which is advantageous if you’re experiencing a lot of pain with your hip and want to address the problem sooner rather than later.
- Greater choice: Of course, one of the most significant advantages of private hip replacement surgery is that you are entitled to ‘shop around’ in order to find the right medical establishment for your operation. You can also find out which surgeons come highly recommended, though be warned, these are the ones most likely to have a higher waiting list.
Making a Decision
Before making a decision, it’s important to be aware that hip replacement surgery is considered one of the most successful operations in the UK, in terms of both low mortality rates and positive results. This applies to NHS hip replacement as well as those performed by private healthcare organisations.
Before deciding, talk to your GP about your options. Also, take the time to discuss the matter with other people who have already had the operation; ask them about their experiences and what they would recommend. In short, it’s worth doing your research, to ensure you’re properly informed and armed with the right facts before making any final decision.