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Royal College of Surgeons slam plans to cut back on hip and knee replacements

Royal College of Surgeons slam plans to cut back on hip and knee replacements

The Royal College of Surgeons has hit out at cost-cutting plans to ration who can receive hip and knee replacements. Three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the West Midlands have proposed slashing the number of people who qualify for hip replacements by 12% and introducing a 19% cut over who is eligible for knee replacements.

Under the new rules patients would now need to have such severe levels of pain that they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks to qualify for an operation.

Board papers reported by the Health Service Journal suggest an "opportunity to reduce expenditure on hip and knee replacement surgery" by £2m a year. This would include only treating "severe to the upper end of moderate" cases, and very obese people with a body mass index of 35 or over after they had lost 10% of their weight, unless their problems are severe.

Redditch and Bromsgrove, South Worcestershire, and Wyre Forest are the CCGs that intend to change their scoring system for eligibility, hoping to prevent about 350 operations needing to be carried out each year.

But the Royal College of Surgeons has said there is "no clinical justification" for their plans. The move is the latest in a round of cost-cutting by CCGs - with some slashing access to treatments, expensive drugs and IVF despite guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Stephen Cannon, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "We appreciate that the CCGs face significant financial challenges, which now mean they are looking at which groups of patients they can target to save money.

While the CCGs have stated they hope this policy will save them £2m a year, it is unclear whether they have considered the costs of not treating a patient. This could include the cost of pain relief medication and a later operation when the patient does meet the required pain and weight thresholds.

Source: The Guardian

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