Lothian waiting list for hip and knee operations more than doubles

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The number of people waiting for hip and knee operations in Lothian has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, latest figures show.

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At the beginning of the first lockdown, back in March 2020, there were 2,182 patients waiting for orthopaedic surgery – and now the statistics for December 2021 show that has soared to 5,297, an increase of 3,115 patients or 143 per cent.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said such a huge number on the waiting list for operations which could make such a difference to people’s mobility was unacceptable.

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The number of patients in Lothian waiting on all specialities has increased by almost 80 per cent. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 the waiting list stood at 11,720. Latest figures show that by December 2021 there were 20,959 patients waiting for an operation, an increase of 9,239 patients.

NHS Lothian needs record funding to match record outpatient waiting figures, says MSP

And Mr Briggs said even before Covid the number of patients waiting to receive treatment in NHS Lothian had been on the increase with the waiting list jumping 32 per cent from the March 2016 figure of 8,883 to the 11,720 four years later.

He said: "These are statistics, but they are actually people's lives. We have had more and more people coming to us with unacceptable waiting times.

The number of patients in Lothian waiting for hip and knee operations has more than doubled.The number of patients in Lothian waiting for hip and knee operations has more than doubled.
The number of patients in Lothian waiting for hip and knee operations has more than doubled.

“Waiting times for operations, such as knee and hip operations, have become extremely long, with three quarter of patients waiting over 12 weeks for treatment.

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“The longer people can't have these operations, they have to stop working and their careers are destroyed, so there is a real tragedy to these statistics.

“Some of the pledges we’ve had over the years, like regional treatment centres, were meant to be looking to get more people through the system. I don't know what's going wrong, especially in Lothian, where we're seeing such backlogs and people ending up going private.

“Even before the pandemic, SNP ministers had failed to improve waiting times for treatments across NHS Scotland, including in NHS Lothian.

“The level of funding for NHS Lothian has been consistently below that of other health boards, making it very difficult to meet performance targets.

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“During the pandemic the focus was rightly on protecting people from Covid-19, but SNP ministers have failed to plan for what comes next.

NHS Lothian said for hip and knee replacement surgery specifically, there were just over 3,100 patients currently on waiting lists.

And it pointed out patients from across Scotland, including Lothian, were regularly offered appointments at the Golden Jubilee Hospital, previously known as The National Waiting Times Centre, which often meant patients could have operations sooner.

Tracey Gillies, medical director for NHS Lothian, said: “Significant work is under way to reduce waiting times as part of national efforts to remobilise, recover and redesign services following the pandemic.

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“Over 2,500 NHS Lothian patients received hip and knee replacements in 2020 and 2021. A major focus of our recovery and redesign is how we accommodate patients currently on waiting lists while planning for future demand.”

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