NHS cataract focus causes hip and knee surgery delays

Patients may be increasingly likely to seek private hip replacement surgery or knee surgery after the news that NHS patients are facing delays because of a focus on cataract procedures, an expert has suggested.

John Appleby, chief economist at the independent health thinktank The King's Fund, told the Daily Telegraph that the NHS' focus on eye surgery is causing unnecessary delays for hip and knee surgery, accounting for nearly one fifth of all 'extra' operations.

The thinktank is concerned that while waiting times for cataract surgery have fallen dramatically, those for hip and knee replacements have fallen more slowly.

Mr Appleby told the newspaper: "In reducing these waiting times we have done the easier operations and left the more difficult ones to last.

"Although the numbers of other operations being performed have increased as well, the figures show they have not risen nearly as much as cataract operations."

The expert also claimed that some people are now being admitted for cataract operations unnecessarily early when their vision is still "rather good".

A private hip replacement in the UK is likely to cost in the region of £7,000 to £9,000.

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