Hip and knee replacements, tonsil removal and cataracts surgery are just a few of the operations being rationed by the NHS in a bid to save money. Research by GPonline.com shows that two thirds of Primary Care Trusts are now limiting non-urgent treatment as part of a drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20 billion over the next four years.
One in three of the 111 PCTs involved in the research have also expanded the list of procedures that they will no longer fund, with some expecting to save more than £1 million by restricting referrals from GPs.This rationing is leading to significant changes such as hip and knee replacements only being carried out where patients are in severe pain, cataracts operations being put on hold until a patient’s sight problems are ‘substantially’ affecting their ability to work, and children only undergoing tonsil removal if they have suffered from at least seven bouts of tonsillitis in a 12-month period.
With different PCTs rationing different treatments, we are now faced with postcode lotteries in provision.
Westfield Health recognises the importance of having quick and easy access to treatment and surgery. Most corporate-paid health plans offer the Surgery Choices add-on benefit, which gives policyholders access to up to 60 different surgical procedures normally classed by the NHS as non-urgent and that typically have long waiting periods. These can include operations for hip and knee problems, cataracts, varicose veins, slipped discs and hernias.