Researchers have revealed the stark impact that COVID has had on the NHS joint replacement waiting lists. According to new figures, tackling the backlog could take a staggering 10 years.
There are currently 160,000 hip and knee replacements delayed due to the pandemic. Here, we’ll look at the ongoing impact COVID is having on the sector and what patients can do if they are facing long delays.
Understanding the latest figures
The latest figures were concluded after researchers trawled through patient medical records. They wanted to see how many procedures had been carried out in NHS and private hospitals across the UK. Only Scottish procedures were unavailable due to being stored on an independent database.
Prior to the COVID outbreak in 2019, there were 219,143 joint replacement procedures carried out. However, in 2020 this figure dropped by a staggering 106,000. Rather than this being down to fewer patients needing a replacement, instead, it is an indication of the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, 50,000 procedures have needed to be delayed in 2021.
Although the findings have yet to be peer-reviewed, the researchers claim they are important due to being more accurate than waiting list data. It also suggests that waiting lists could be six months longer than usual.
This is terrible news for patients who have been left in constant pain and discomfort. However, there are things you can do if you have been affected.
Many patients are turning to the self-pay sector
Current backlogs are mostly affecting the NHS. However, private clinics are starting to feel the pressure as more people turn to the self-pay sector.
Waiting lists tend to be much shorter with self-pay treatment and the quality of treatment is excellent. Although some backlogs have occurred in the private sector, they are much shorter than those experienced on the NHS.
What can you do if you are facing a long wait?
If you are stuck waiting for a joint replacement, there are some things you can do to cope with pain and discomfort. While you might not feel like it, exercising is a great way to keep the joint mobile and pain-free. It’s a good idea to seek advice from a physiotherapist. They will be able to put together a tailored plan to help you get more comfortable.
You can also download apps such as Escape Pain. This will provide you with plenty of advice you can follow while you wait. Don’t forget about the mental impact too. Join online support groups and consider seeking therapy if you are finding it especially difficult.
The backlog of joint replacements is causing concern for both patients and surgeons. Hip and knee replacements provide instant relief, making it essential to carry them out quickly. If you are tired of waiting for your surgery to go ahead, book a consultation with joint replacement specialist Mr Simon Bridle today.