Based on NHS data, knee replacement surgery in the UK is performed over 70 000 times each year as a treatment for knee damaged by arthritis, most commonly osteoarthritis. Despite being a routine and safe operation, it is a complex procedure which requires expert medical staff and well-equipped facility. That is why the cost of the knee replacement private in the UK is quite demanding, thus in many cases might be refunded by NHS. Usually, it is given to people that experience severe pain if no other non-surgical treatment like physiotherapy or steroid injections have been successful.
Now, due to COVID-19 hospital’s backlog in the UK, most of the so-called “no urgent” surgeries were cancelled – including knee replacement surgeries. People who were on the NHS waiting list have now two options – wait until they will be offered another surgery date (which may happen in the unknown future), or book for the private surgery, to get back to the painless and active life.
Waiting time for knee replacement surgery UK
An important factor that must be taken into account when considering the cost of knee replacement in the UK is the waiting time. Maximum waiting time for knee replacement in the UK is assumed to be 18 weeks (the gap between seeing a GP and having an operation), as for planned non-urgent surgery. However, according to NHS statistics from 2018, from all patients that were on waiting lists based on Referral to Treatment (RTT) for different conditions, more than 12% had been waiting for more than 18 weeks which is 4% below the expected standard. On top of that, according to the saga.co.uk, 2,236 of these patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for different types of surgery. Unfortunately, this is expected to get worse in the following years looking at a negative trend in the figure below.
Data from late 2020 are not available yet, as the situation is dynamic, however in May, the National Health Service advised hospitals to cancel most elective surgeries for 12 weeks. It is estimated that this will result in 516,000 cancelled surgeries (including the orthopaedical surgeries, total knee replacements etc). And it was far before the lockdown in November 2020…
In May 2020 the CovidSurg Collaborative (from the University of Birmingham) predicted that COVID-19 disruption will lead to 28 million surgeries cancelled worldwide. Orthopaedic procedures will be cancelled most frequently, with 6.3 million orthopaedic surgeries cancelled worldwide over a 12-week period.
Figure 1 Source: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/01/Combined-Performance-Summary-January-November-December-data-2018.pdf
Cost of knee replacement UK private
With constantly increasing waiting times for knee replacement in the UK and because of some patients having restricted access to this surgery, more and more people might want to consider choosing a private treatment. As suggested by the Medical Technology Group’s report regarding the waiting times for knee and hip replacement, “timely intervention removes pain and restores mobility while delay leads to worse patient outcomes”. Private knee replacement surgery in the UK usually oscillates around £11,400, however, it may go up to as much as £15,400. The most common quote is £12,500 and includes about 3-4 days in the hospital. This price does not cover the post-operational physiotherapy program. Additional costs also involve the diagnostics before the surgery and pre-operational consultations. If those costs are hard to afford it is also an option to perform a knee replacement surgery abroad. Nowadays this option is getting more and more popular, as for the 50% of the British price, Patients get two-weeks all-inclusive stays in a private clinic in other European countries.
Knee replacement surgery abroad
Going abroad to get treatment might be a way to avoid long waiting times but also can be refunded by the NHS (until the 31st of December). For those who are interested in getting a refund from NHS for knee replacement abroad, we have prepared a guide with all the necessary information (click here to download). No prior face-to-face consultation is required, all medical records could be shared online). Nevertheless, even without a refund, the cost of knee replacement surgery is quite affordable. The total care packages that include online qualification, airport transfers, surgery, catering, stay in the clinic (room with bathroom, TV and Wi-Fi) and concierge services start from £6,500. Although it may seem less comfortable to travel abroad for getting treatment, the package is designed in such a way that you can be easily accompanied by your spouse or friend (sometimes even with no additional cost). We are also doing our best to address other downsides of the medical travel which we described in another article (link). On our website, you can find more information about the cost of private knee replacement in Poland. If you can not find the answers for your doubts regarding the knee surgery abroad, please let us know by sending a quick inquiry.