We are calling for more support for those waiting for joint replacement surgery

10 June 2021

People with arthritis waiting for surgery have told us that they face daily pain and negative impacts on their physical and mental health that are impossible to ignore. With waiting times for planned surgery at record levels, people with arthritis waiting for joint replacements need support now. No one should be left unsupported and waiting in pain.

More support for people with arthritis waiting for surgery

As part of our Impossible to Ignore campaign, we have developed a six-point support package that we want local health services to provide to those waiting for joint replacements. Today, we are publishing our recommendations and calling on local health systems to urgently implement a package of support to improve the experiences of people with arthritis who are waiting for surgery.

We’ve shared the support package with MPs at Westminster asking them to write to their local health bodies and push for our measures to be implemented.

We listened to people waiting for joint replacements

The six-point support package is based on what people waiting for joint replacement surgery said would make a difference to them. The people we spoke to emphasised the importance of getting the right support to manage pain, distress, physical health, wellbeing and finances, as well as the need for good communication from health professionals.

We surveyed 900 people across the UK about their experience of waiting for surgery:

  • 79% reported their physical health had worsened
  • 89% said their pain levels had deteriorated
  • 90% reported reduced mobility
  • 79% said they were now less independent
  • 72% reported a deterioration in their mental health

The impact of waiting

Before arthritis I worked a busy job in London and was active too. But in less than six months I became immobile because of the pain in my hips. I can just about walk from the sofa to the bathroom in my house, otherwise I can’t move. It’s like standing on jagged glass. I haven’t left my house for a year now, apart from going to my hospital appointments.

I’ve been told I’m definitely still on the waiting list for surgery, but they can’t give me any indication of a timeline. They just leave you hanging, thinking what am I going to do with my life?

Brenda, 61, is waiting for a double hip replacement.

It’s time to take action

No one with arthritis waiting for surgery should be left unsupported and struggling in unbearable agony. Urge your local health services to implement the six points below by emailing your MP now.

  1. Clear communication to be provided to people about when they can expect to have their surgery and receive the care and services they need in the meantime.
  2. Personalised self-management support to be provided to help people with arthritis manage their pain while they wait for surgery.
  3. Physical activity programmes designed to help people with arthritis stay active and prepare for surgery should be actively promoted by Primary Care Networks*
  4. Mental health support to be offered to help every person with arthritis to manage their pain and any associated depression and anxiety.
  5. Signposting to financial support and advice to be provided for people with arthritis in work or seeking work.
  6. COVID-19 recovery plan to address the specific needs of people with arthritis.

*Primary Care Networks are groups of GP practices that work closely together with other primary and community care staff and health and care organisations to provide integrated services to their local populations.

Get involved

We’re campaigning to improve joint replacement waiting times and access to support across all UK nations. We are calling on politicians across UK parliaments to ensure everyone waiting for joint replacement surgery has access to all the help, care and information they need. We need your help to get this vital support provided as quickly as possible.

Wherever you live in the UK, please help us by sending a message to your elected representative today and ask them to back our call. We know that politicians listen and respond to their local constituents, so this is the best way to get them to take action quickly on this urgent issue. Click here to take part.

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