Policy Update: Spotlight on Joint Rationing
We regularly hear from people living with osteoarthritis, who share with us the impact their condition can have on reducing mobility and independence, while also negatively affecting wellbeing and quality of life. For people with severe osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery can be very effective at reducing pain and restoring independence.
Despite this, we know that throughout the country increasing numbers of people are waiting longer than the 18 week target before beginning consultant led treatment for joint replacement surgery. In addition, there have also been reports that in some areas, criteria have been introduced stating that patients with a larger body mass index will have to lose a percentage of their weight before they can be referred for elective surgery, or wait up to 12 months to have the operation. We believe that people’s access to surgery, which can significantly improve people’s quality of life, should be based on their clinical need and their own preferences, following an individual assessment by an orthopaedic surgeon.
Our policy and public affairs team have been focusing on this area, and working to ensure that no one with arthritis is unable to get the treatment they need, regardless of where they live in the UK. We have been working with colleagues from the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the British Orthopaedic Association on a sector-wide approach to this issue that reflects the positions of both patient representative organisations and professional bodies.