Nearly 1,700 NHS patients were denied hip and knee surgeries

The reality of NHS rationing means soaring numbers of patients are being denied hip and knee surgery – despite ‘begging’ letters from their doctors, an investigation has found.

Nearly 1,700 ‘exceptional’ requests were turned down by health trusts last year, up 45 per cent on 2016/17.

GPs and consultants are increasingly having to put in special requests for patients to undergo procedures which were once carried out as a routine.

The reality of NHS rationing means soaring numbers of patients are being denied hip and knee surgery – despite ‘begging’ letters from their doctors, an investigation has found

The reality of NHS rationing means soaring numbers of patients are being denied hip and knee surgery – despite ‘begging’ letters from their doctors, an investigation has found

Many trusts – Clinical Commissioning Groups – will only let patients have hip or knee surgery if patients are unable to sleep or are constantly on painkillers.

If patients don’t fulfil the criteria, their doctor must fill out a form, an exceptional or individual funding request, proving they still deserve the op.

This is then judged by a panel of healthcare workers and managers who meet once a month to decide on all cases without ever meeting patients.

Medical leaders say they are ‘appalled’ that doctors have to beg for operations on patients’ behalf which were once routinely provided by the NHS.

Freedom of Information requests by the BMJ to the 195 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England show that 1,675 of these requests were rejected in 2017/18. This was up from 1,155 in 2016/17 and some health trusts turn down more than 90 per cent of all requests.

The responses from 167 of the 195 CCGs show the number of requests being made by doctors has risen by 50 per cent in a year as the criteria has become increasingly strict. A total of 16,169 requests were put in during 2017/18, up from 10,598 requests in 2016/17.

This means an average of one in ten requests were rejected across England although there was considerable variation. Rotherham in South Yorkshire rejected all hip surgery requests last year while Doncaster CCG, also in South Yorkshire, turned down 96 per cent of knee surgery requests. 

Nearly 1,700 ‘exceptional’ requests were turned down by health trusts last year, up 45 per cent on 2016/17. GPs and consultants are increasingly having to put in special requests for patients to undergo procedures which were once carried out as a routine

Nearly 1,700 ‘exceptional’ requests were turned down by health trusts last year, up 45 per cent on 2016/17. GPs and consultants are increasingly having to put in

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