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Get your hip or knee operated on in less than 18 weeks on the NHS

18 weeks and waiting even longer now for your hip or knee operation on the NHS. Last week Simon Stevens stated that patients will now have to wait longer than 18 weeks for their knee or hip operations. This statement shows his ignorance of Patient Choice and patients rights under the NHS Constitution. It also demonstrates how NHS managers and GP’s conspire to deny patients choice and keep patients in ignorance of their right to choose to have their operation undertaken at NHS Treatment Centres and many Independent Sector hospitals with contracts to treat NHS patients.

If your GP tells you that you need to be referred for assessment for a knee or hip operation then insist that they refer you using the e-referral system and to select at least 5 hospital options. At least three of the hospitals should be Independent Sector or NHS Treatment Centres. Once you have been referred using the NHS e-referral system you will be able to see how long you will have to wait for your first appointment to see the consultant. It is very probable that the Independent Sector will be able to offer you an appointment within 2 to 8 weeks of your choice of date and time. The NHS Hospitals will be lucky if they offer you an appointment at all on e-referrals and you will be left waiting for a phone call or a letter telling you the date of your appointment. You will then start to experience a catalogue of cancelations and frustration and eventually see possibly the consultant but more likely a member of his junior staff. 

If you choose an Independent Sector hospital you will be seen by the consultant and not a member of his junior staff. You will be seen punctually and sit in comfortable waiting areas and possibly get a free cup of tea or coffee. If the consultant agrees you need an operation you will be consulted on when is the most convenient date and all the tests and necessary checks will then be arranged very soon after. You can expect to then wait 4 to 8 weeks for your operation which is almost certainty that it will not be cancelled. You are almost certain to have a room to yourself and have excellent meals and care. All patients at a private hospital are treated with the same care and attention NHS or paying. Why deny yourself the opportunity to have some certainty over the arrangements rather than be left in ignorance and having to place your life on hold for months on the off chance your local hospital is going to ring you up at short notice for your operation.

If you are self employed and your knee or hip are making your working life impossible or ruining your health from the discomfort and enormous numbers of painkillers to enable you to get through the day then seriously consider your choices and do not leave it to your GP to decide when they refer you. Insist on having the choice as to where you have your operation undertaken.

Do not feel guilty about taking the work from your local hospital and having the operation done privately, it is being done on the NHS and the hospitals get paid exactly the same amount. You are actually doing your local hospital a favour as they need the beds and theatres to deal with serious injuries and urgent operations as well as the many elderly patients. You may actually find that your local hospital having messed you about for 18 weeks and longer telephones you and asks you after the long wait if you would like to have your operation undertaken at a “private” hospital, the same hospital you could have chosen 18 weeks previously! 

The only time you may not be able to have the choice to be seen at an Independent Sector hospital is if you have long term conditions such as diabetes, heart or breathing problems or significantly overweight.