Our National Health Service has had to rise to the challenge of the COVID pandemic by redesigning its services to cope with the onslaught of patients. As a result of these decisions, though, there have been many unintended effects in terms of access to acute care, diagnostics and planned surgery.
In fact, COVID has been described as a ‘wrecking ball’ through NHS waiting times and we have had warnings from hospital trusts that it may be up to two years before patients are seen for non-urgent care. These longer waits are already having a profound and negative impact on patients’ lives. Patients that are waiting for these procedures that are deemed non-urgent, such as knee or hip replacements, will be suffering increasing pain, lack of mobility and reduced quality of life.
Unfortunately, the timing of your joint replacement procedure is essential. In January, an American study found that most knee OA sufferers wait too long before they opt for a knee replacement. Researchers at Northwestern University concluded that when patients wait too long, they lose more function and can’t be as active, leading to weight gain, depression and other health issues. Surgery may not also be as successful at a later stage and they lag behind in optimal results.
Self pay joint replacements
The pre-COVID state-of-affairs was far from perfect. For several years now, waiting lists for planned care have grown and waiting times have increased and it has been driving patients to explore self-pay options. According to healthcare analysts LaingBuisson, there was a 7.4% growth in self-paying patients between 2014 and 2018.
While NHS wait times are cited as the ‘key driver’ in this trend, there are other factors. Private care should mean you are at less risk of cancelled or moved operations and the impact that can have on your employment. Same day surgery and enhanced recovery are more likely to be options. The relative cost of private surgery has also become more affordable.
At the beginning of this year LaingBuisson forecast the market will continue to grow to £1.3bn by 2021, figures which are surely being readjusted to take in the impact of COVID. If you want more information on our self-pay joint replacements, call us on 0808 163 1268 to arrange a consultation with Mr Shah Punwar.