Health And Wellbeing For The Over 50s

Knee Replacement Surgery in 2023: Should you Stick with the NHS or go Private?

knee replacement surgery

Knee pain is not just a discomfort – it disrupts every aspect of your life.  The many thousands of knee pain sufferers face a stark choice between enduring the lengthy NHS waiting lists or shouldering the cost of private knee replacement surgery. If you are considering the latter, there are many factors to take into account – What type of surgery may you need? Where will you have the operation? And, possibly most importantly, how much does knee replacement surgery cost?

Bearing all these factors in mind, we have created a guide to help you make a well-informed decision. We will show you what facilities, hospitals, surgeons, and types of treatment are available in your area. You will also be able to compare the cost of knee replacement surgery and ways you can pay for your treatment.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about knee replacement surgery in the UK.


Table of Contents

Introduction to Knee Replacement Surgery

How long is the waiting list on the NHS?

In September 2023 the NHS waiting list hit a record high, with 7.7 million people waiting for treatment. Before the Pandemic, the NHS had a target waiting time of up to 18 weeks for knee replacement surgery. Currently, 389,952 people in England are waiting more than 52 weeks for non essential surgery such as knee replacement. This has resulted in the prospect of many months of further suffering for those waiting for knee surgery.

For NHS knee replacement surgery, your waiting period will commence when the hospital first receives your referral letter. Alternatively, the wait can commence after your initial appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral service. Under the current government targets, the maximum waiting period is 18 weeks

However, for most of the country, the waiting period is substantially longer.

This is because of the length of the current waiting lists. According to new NHS statistics published in September 2023, there were 7.7 million patients waiting for non essential treatment and surgery such as hip, cataract and knee replacement surgery.

Under this pressure, the length of time people have to wait is growing. New data shows 389,952 people have had to wait for over a year for their surgery. This number is also growing, so the waiting time could get even longer in the coming months.

Bearing all these factors in mind, many people are considering other options………………….

Let us now explore the cost of private knee replacement surgery throughout the UK.

Cost of Knee Replacement Surgery in the UK

Click on your region to find the hospitals, the best surgeons and the cost of knee replacement surgery near you.................

Here is a brief summary of the cost of private knee replacement surgery around the UK:

Region of the UKRange of Prices
North West England£11,764 to £16,715
North East England£10,422 to £17,070
Yorkshire & Humberside£13,315 to £15,435
East Midlands£11,200 to £15,570
West Midlands£12,435 to £16,945
East of England£12,995 to £17,840
London£11,200 to £16,330
South East England£10,804 to £15,355
South West England£11,200 to £16,789
Wales£12,755 to £15,540
Scotland£13,625 to £15,436

What are the benefits of private knee surgery?

The greatest benefit of having private knee replacement surgery is the reduced waiting time to alleviate your knee pain and restore your mobility. Other benefits also include having a greater choice and flexibility, continuity of treatment, increased comfort and privacy, and access to the latest technology.

What are the different types of knee replacement in the UK?

Total knee replacement or knee arthroplasty is the most common type of knee replacement in the UK. Knee revision surgery, partial knee replacement, and resurfacing are alternative procedures. The replacement parts or prostheses are generally made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or a combination of these materials.

For a comprehensive guide to the different types of knee replacement surgery, follow this link to our article:

Types of Knee Replacement Surgery in the UK

knee replacement surgery

There are two main types of knee surgery. Here is a quick overview:

Different materials can be used to replace the diseased or damaged bone. The most common is metal, though plastics and ceramics might also be used. Your consultant will take many factors into consideration when deciding which material and which implant is most suitable for your individual needs.

It should be noted that you are still eligible for the operation if you have already had part of the knee replaced with prosthetics. Your doctor will be able to remove the old prosthetic implants and replace them with new ones. 

As alternatives to total or partial knee replacement surgery, there are a few other types of surgery that your doctor might recommend. These are: 

How much is knee replacement surgery in my area?

The cost of private knee replacement surgery in the UK in 2023 is in the region of £10,400 to £17,800 depending on the area you live in, the individual surgeon, and the type of surgery you need.

Here is a regional breakdown to compare the cost of knee replacement surgery throughout the UK:

Region LowestHighestAverageNo. of Hospitals
North West£13,625
Circle Health Highfield Hospital, Rochdale
Nuffield Health The Grosvenor, Chester
North East£10,422
Ramsay Health Care, Tees Valley Hospital, Middlesborough
Nuffield Health Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital
Yorkshire and the Humber£13,315
Nuffield Health York Hospital
Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital
East Midlands £11,200
Practice Plus Group Hospital, Barlborough
Spire Leicester Hospital
West Midlands £12,435
West Midlands Hospital, Halesowen Ramsay Health Care
Nuffield Health Hereford Hospital
East of England£12,995
Springfield Hospital Ramsay Healthcare
Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital
Practice Plus Group Hospital, Ilford
Nuffield Health Brentwood Hospital
South East£10,804
Spencer Private Hospital Margate
Spire Healthcare Gatwick Park
South West £11,200
Practice Plus Group Surgical Centre, Devizes
Practice Plus Group Hospital, Emersons Green
Practice Plus Group Hospital, Plymouth
Practice Plus Group Hospital, Shepton Mallet
Nuffield Health
Exeter Hospital
£13,855 19
Spire Healthcare Yale Hospital
Spire Healthcare Cardiff
Circle Health/BMI Healthcare Ross Hall Hospital, Glasgow
Spire Healthcare Murrayfield & Shawfair Park Hospital Edinburgh
£14,489 5

These prices are Guide Prices and are correct at time of publication. The price may vary depending on your consultant, the prosthesis used and your own medical history.

How much does an initial consultation for knee replacement surgery cost?

In most cases, an initial knee pain consultation will cost between £150 and £300. This might vary a little, depending on the area of the country in which you live.

How to pay for your knee surgery

There are a few ways that you can pay for your knee replacement surgery. You can pay it all upfront. If you have Health Insurance, this may help cover your fees. Alternatively, you can enter a payment plan with the hospital.

Here are examples of the Self Pay Packages offered by some of the major healthcare providers to cover the cost of a total knee replacement:

Knee Replacement Self Pay Packages:

PROVIDERSpireCircle/BMINuffieldHCARamsayPractice Plus Group
Scheme Name Self Pay Paying for YourselfNuffield PricePromiseHCA Self Pay TotalCareSelf Pay
First consultation included?NoNoNoNoNoNo
Initial outpatient diagnostic services?NoNoNoNoNoNo
Pre-admission assessments and tests?YesYesYesYesYesYes
All hospital charges from admission to discharge?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Surgeon and anaesthetist fees included?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Cost of prosthesis included?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Post operative consultation?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Cost of take home drugs included?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Post-operative care?Clinically necessary follow- up physiotherapy, radiology and pathologyYes. Up to 6 months aftercare, based on Consultant adviceYes. No time limits if clinically requiredNot includedUnlimited AftercareYes
Re-admission, if required?Up to 12 months, for clinically-related reasonsUp to 6 months, for clinically-related reasonsYes, if arising from the original procedureNo extra charge should complications developNot statedYes, if arising from the original procedure
Finance available?10 months 0% interest free, with Zebra Health Finance12 months 0% interest free with the BMI Card10 months 0% interest free, with Zebra Health Finance12 months 0% interest free, with Chrysalis Finance10 months 0% interest free, with Zebra Health Finance12 months 0% interest free, with Chrysalis Finance
Cancellation Policy?Not statedNot statedMinimum of 14 working days’ notice – full refundMinimum of 3 working days’ notice – full refundNot stated Minimum of 5 working days’ notice – full refund
Knee replacement cost(Spire) – £12,755 to £15,570(Circle) – From £13,625 (Nuffield) – £13,315 to £17,840(HCA) – £14,670 to £14,850(Ramsay) – £10,422 to £15,811(Practice Plus Group) - From £11,200

All details and prices are correct at time of publication.

How to choose your surgeon?

 Important factors in choosing your surgeon include:

It’s important to remember that it is a big decision so it is worth taking your time to research surgeons.

By booking a private consultation, you will be able to assess all aspects of the surgery and the surgeon will advise you which procedure is best suited to your individual requirements.

Find a knee replacement surgeon in your area

There are plenty of criteria you can use to find the right surgeon. You can look at elements such as:

Choosing your surgeon is a big decision. There are lots of factors to consider. The National Joint Registry shows surgeon and hospital data to enable you to make comparisons between hospitals.

What will the operation involve?

First, a small incision will be made along your kneecap. Any damaged bone will be removed. It will be replaced with a prosthetic implant and your range of motion will be tested. Then the wound will be closed and the recovery process begins.

cost of knee replacement surgery

There are two main types of knee surgery. Here is a quick overview:

Your doctor will be able to provide more personalized advice, telling you what you can expect during and after your surgery.

Horder Healthcare has compiled an excellent guide with lots of practical advice to assist before, during and after your knee replacement surgery. We recommend that you download their PDF guide and refer to it regularly.

Click on the following link: 

Horder Healthcare: A Patient’s Guide to Total Knee Replacement

Your Path to Recovery after Knee Replacement Surgery

How long does it take to recover from knee surgery?

You should be able to able to start walking unaided within two to three weeks. It may be three months before you can get back to work.

Recovering from knee replacement surgery can be a slow process. You need to give the bone some time to heal and recover. However, there are a few common milestones that you can look forward to:

It should be noted that this timeline can change a little from person to person. For example, your age and fitness level might impact how quickly you recover. But, as long as you follow the health advice of your doctors, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

What will my recovery involve?

There are a few measures that you will need to take during the recovery period. These may include:

Your doctor will give you specific advice on what you can expect during the recovery period and what you will need to do. Sometimes, this might involve attending physiotherapy sessions. This will help you regain mobility in the joint.

Certain hospitals are now taking part in the Enhanced Recovery Programme or ERP which enables a faster and more efficient recovery. This is also sometimes referred to as ERAS or Enhanced Recovery After Surgery and your surgeon will explain how you can achieve the best results following your surgery.

For a comprehensive guide to the timeline and exercises to aid your recovery from knee surgery, click on this link to our article:

Recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery in the UK

How can I monitor my recovery?

The best way to monitor your recovery is by knowing what you can expect. Over time, the pain you are experiencing should start to decline. You will also find it easier to walk normally, without any awkwardness in the joint.

There are a few things that you can expect during your recovery:

Your doctor will walk you through some of the most common side effects. If you think that something might be wrong, you should get in touch with them. Though they are rare, complications can sometimes occur.

New technologies have been developed to enable you to track the recovery process. A good example of this is the Huma app which has been created in conjunction with Smith+Nephew. This is designed to make it easier to remotely connect with healthcare professionals, so you can get the care you need from the comfort of your own home. It also houses a wide range of recovery resources, so you can educate yourself about what to expect, both before and after your knee replacement surgery.

What are the latest developments in knee surgery?

Several new developments are helping to re-imagine knee replacement surgery. This includes advancements in scanning technology and robotic assistance during procedures.

One of the benefits of going to a private hospital is that you will be able to get access to the latest technologies. Here are some of the highlights:

What are the possible risks and complications

The main risks and complications of knee replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, implant dislocation, leg length difference, bleeding, and damage to the blood vessels or nerves surrounding the site of the surgery.

Complications are relatively uncommon, occurring in one in 20 cases. The good news is that if they do occur, they are usually fairly minor. Here are some of the most common complications and how they might be dealt with:

Occasionally, in some cases, you may need to have additional surgery. This may occur as a result of excessive bone formation or the bone may have fractured. Your doctor will be able to help you manage any complications you experience.


How do I know if I need a knee replacement?

  • You have chronic pain & stiffness
  • Painkillers, injections & physical therapies fail to provide relief
  • Everyday tasks are difficult
  • Your pain is making you depressed and affecting your mental wellbeing
  • Tests reveal advanced arthritis or joint damage
  • Alternative therapies have not helped


There are many potential warning signs, which might indicate that you need to have knee replacement surgery. The best place to start is with a consultation with your doctor. They will examine the knee and tell you what the problem might be.

This session can be a good way of learning whether or not it will be worth pursuing replacement surgery, or whether it will be best to try an alternative treatment.

What are the alternatives to a knee replacement?

There are a few potential alternatives to knee replacement. You can try losing weight, physical therapy, or using walking aids. However, you should still consider a more permanent solution, like undergoing the necessary surgery.

Here are some of the most common alternatives to knee replacement and how they can help:

  • Losing weight. By losing weight you will be reducing the amount of pressure that is being placed on the joint. If you can lose ten pounds, you will have four times less force on your joint
  • Physical therapy. This can help to strengthen the muscles around the joints.
  • Pain medication. Over-the-counter medications might be needed to help manage the joint pain.
  • Walking aid like a cane or knee brace. This can help you improve your mobility and might be able to help you manage pain.


While these are all good options their effectiveness is limited. They don’t address the underlying cause of the problem. To do this, you will need to turn to surgery.

What does it feel like when you need a knee replacement?

If you have severe knee pain or stiffness that is not relieved by medication and that makes it difficult to walk or interferes with your work, sleep, or daily life, you should consider a knee replacement.

Serious knee pain can be managed using medication. But it won’t be able to address the underlying cause of the problem. This is something that you will need a surgeon to do. As long as the issues in the joint remain, the pain will stay.

If your pain is starting to impact your quality of life, you should have a consultation with your doctor. They will be able to look at your joint and tell you what is causing the underlying pain and how you can find a long-term solution to the problem.

Is a knee replacement a major operation?

Although a knee replacement is a major operation, it is safe and has huge benefits and successful outcomes in relieving pain and restoring mobility.  However, it should only be considered when other treatments have not helped to improve mobility and reduce pain.

Even though knee replacements are fairly serious operations, they are still relatively common. Each year, there are 160,000 knee replacements according to the National Joint Register of England and Wales (NJR) This number is expected to grow. According to a joint study from the University of Southampton and Oxford University, there could be 1,219,362 knee replacements by 2035.

How long will the new knee last?

A modern artificial knee joint is designed to last for at least 15 years. Indeed, new materials, more advanced technical procedures and new knowledge, would suggest that this figure will be even longer in the future.                                   

For most people, the joint will last for 15 years. Though, for 80 percent of people, it can last for even longer. The lifespan can extend up to 25 years. After this period, you may need to have further surgery to replace the joint. Though, with some new technologies coming onto the market, it’s likely that the lifespan of the knee replacement surgery will continue to grow.

Are there things I can’t do after knee replacement surgery?

You might have to avoid some physically intensive activities. Some things, like kneeling, will be uncomfortable but it won’t damage the joint. Though you should be able to return to your normal lifestyle after a period of recovery.  

There is a limited list of activities that people who have had knee replacement surgery shouldn’t do. This is mainly limited to more physically intensive activities, including:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Contact Sports


Some activities, while not prohibited, will still be uncomfortable. Things like bending or kneeling can require you to twist the joint into an awkward position. While this won’t harm the joint, it will still be a little painful.

Is a knee replacement a painful operation?

The joint will still be a little painful while it is healing. This can take around three months. After this period is over, though, you shouldn’t have any lingering pain.

As the joint heals, you can expect it to be a little sore. When you wake up in the hospital, it might be swollen or bruised. Whilst the worst of the pain should pass within a few weeks,  you might still have some lingering pain for up to three months.

Your doctor will often prescribe you some medications to help you manage this pain.

Can you wait too long for knee replacement surgery?

It’s recommended that you talk to your doctor as soon as you start to experience symptoms. If you wait too long, you might be at higher risk of complications and have a lower range of mobility following the surgery.

There are a few potential downsides that can come from waiting too long for your surgery. They include:

  • Reduced mobility. This is because of the progressively worsening onset of diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Higher risk of complications. The more damaged the bones become, the harder the operation will become.
  • Higher risk of revision surgeries. These are used to fix issues that occurred after the original surgery, such as fractures at the joint. Revision surgeries carry their own risks.


Because of these issues, it’s best to avoid putting off knee replacement surgery if at all possible. Talk to your doctor as soon as you start to experience knee pain

What can I expect after knee replacement surgery?

Here is a rough timeline for your recovery:

  • Leaving the hospital after one to four days.
  • Walking without an aide after two to three weeks
  • Driving within three to four weeks
  • You should be able to enjoy most regular activities within six weeks.


It should be noted that everyone has their own healing timeline. But most people will recover within six months, at the latest. To speed up the process, you should make sure that you are following your doctor’s advice. It’s also a good idea to attend physiotherapy sessions. 

When can I resume driving after knee surgery?

You should be able to start driving again within four to six weeks. But you may need to seek your doctor’s approval before you can get back behind the wheel.

Every person will have a slightly different timeframe on when they can get back behind the wheel. This can depend on many factors, like your age, the extent of the joint damage, and the type of operation you had.


Here are some definitions of the most important words or phrases associated with knee replacement surgery:

Final Thoughts

Navigating the cost of private knee replacement surgery in the UK is no simple task. In the face of persistent knee pain, individuals are weighing the urgency for relief against a potentially hefty price tag. As we delve into this pressing issue, our goal is to shed light on the complex financial landscape of private knee replacement costs, assisting you in making an informed decision that aligns with both your health and financial considerations.

It’s about reclaiming mobility, armed with as much information as possible, to enable you to make the right choice for your health.