Patients requiring hip and knee replacement surgery are facing agonising waits at a hospital in King's Lynn as the NHS attempts to claw back money.
Around 1,800 patients who are awaiting surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are being forced to wait even longer for their operations after the primary care trust (PCT) ordered the hospital to defer all non-urgent surgery for 17 weeks, the Lynn News reports.
Non-urgent operations will now be postponed until just before the new financial year, leaving many patients in unnecessary pain unless they seek private treatment.
In addition, the PCT has reportedly told the hospital to reduce the length of hospital stays by 50 per cent in order to cut costs and has threatened to ban operations for patients who smoke or are obese unless they adopt healthier lifestyles.
The hospital's finance director has warned that deferring all non-emergency patients would be almost impossible as the operations would then have to be performed in a three-week period to meet the government's maximum 20-week wait.
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Hip and knee surgery news : 28/11/2006