According to data released by NHS England, elective orthopaedic surgery has experienced one of the lowest returns to normal activity in August 2020. Now, the British Orthopaedic Association is urging the restart of orthopaedic surgery.
Here, we will look at why the sector is experiencing a slower return to surgery and the risks delayed treatment presents.
COVID and the impact on shoulder surgery waiting lists
At the moment, orthopaedic surgery comes just ahead of oral surgery at the bottom of the NHS priority list. Only 5 out of 19 surgical sectors are currently back at normal levels. This falls well below the NHS England’s targets.
As a result, a lot of orthopaedic patients are facing significant delays in their treatment. At the end of August 2020, more than 24,000 patients had been waiting for treatment for more than one year. There were also 302,426 patients who had been on the waiting list for 18 weeks.
So, what is the British Orthopaedic Association proposing to do about the current situation? They have put forward a number of arguments for restarting the sector.
The argument for resuming orthopaedic surgery
Due to the ongoing issues caused by delaying treatment, the British Orthopaedic Association is urging the restart of orthopaedic surgery. As the NHS is unlikely to return to pre-coronavirus levels anytime soon, the following arguments are being put forward:
- A national discussion about how the UK can prioritise and deliver surgery
- Hip and knee replacements are highly effective and have the lowest cost of QALY of any operation
- More investment into cold elective orthopaedic centres to combat the backlog
- Elective surgery continues to take place during a second wave of the virus
These are the main arguments being put forward to tackle the ever-growing issue. A national discussion would help surgeons to come together and explore the options available to safely restart surgeries. The government also needs to realise the cost of delaying treatment, both in terms of patient’s lives and the financial costs passed to the state.
What are the risks of delaying shoulder surgery?
Patients are seeing both their physical and mental health deteriorate as their surgery is delayed. Patients who were already in pain have had to suffer due to the increased waiting times. Many are finding the situation intolerable.
Those with severe arthritis are in danger of losing their independence. As their mobility continues to decline, they are relying more upon others to help them get by. Alongside increased pain and lower independence, it is also causing wider issues. Patients are finding it more difficult to work, and they are relying more upon the state for support and care in their daily lives.
Delaying surgery is having a significant impact on those awaiting orthopaedic surgery. Unless steps are taken now, shoulder surgery waiting lists are only going to get worse and patients will continue to suffer unnecessarily. If you’re interested in discussing self-pay options for shoulder surgery, call us on 0203 195 2442 to speak to one of the team.