The number of hip and knee operations performed in the UK rose dramatically in the decade to 2012, according to a new report from the Medical Technology Group (MTG). The increase amounts to 92%, taking the number from 72,006 to 138,281. The research also suggests that the longest wait is in store for patients needing hip or knee replacement after Christmas. This has to do with financial calendars, which make March the most hectic month for hospital trusts in terms of operations.
Hip and knee surgeries have emerged as the most beneficial procedures, delivering improvement to a higher proportion of patients compared to any other procedure. Citing the NHS´s Patient Reported Outcomes Measures, MTG noted that 87% of people undergoing hip replacement report improvement in their condition after surgery and the same goes for 78% of knee replacement patients.
But depending on the time of year they join the waiting list, patients can have quite varying fortunes. The period after Christmas tends to be the worst time because the end of the financial year falls in April. March marks the peak for operations but the number drops sharply in April. In the last decade, the average number of hip procedures fell by 498 from March to April, while knee operations shrank in number by 641. The total number of hip procedures performed in March during the last ten years stood at 46,501, versus 41,519 in April, which amounts to an 11% difference. NHS trusts carried out 49,351 knee operations in March between 2004 and 2013, but the number declined by 13% for April, sliding to 42,944.