Our campaign to bring down joint replacement waiting times

31 May 2022

Hundreds of thousands of people with arthritis are currently waiting for joint replacement operations. With your help, our campaign to make sure governments tackle the routine surgery backlog and provide support to people waiting is making huge progress. Here’s a look at the work we are doing across the UK to ensure that government promises lead to change.

We’re making an impact across the UK

Our Impossible to Ignore campaign has been calling on UK governments to set out national plans to bring down waiting times and ensure that people with arthritis waiting for vital joint replacement surgeries are able to access the treatment and support they need.

Thanks to the tens of thousands of you who have got behind the campaign so far – from signing our petition to writing to your elected representatives – we’ve now reached a significant milestone; we have government plans to bring down waiting times in all four nations. Now we need to make sure that these commitments deliver the results that people with arthritis need.


In England, the Elective Recovery Plan was announced in February 2022. The plan promises to deliver more operations through surgical hubs and has an emphasis on improving communication and support to people who are waiting for planned surgery.

Although we welcome the plan, we are concerned that progress will be slow and that successful recovery could be spread unequally across the country. Read our response to the elective surgery plans.

We highlighted our concerns at a recent meeting with Minister for Health Ed Argar MP, and other Government officials, to discuss the Government’s plans.

We shared your experiences of waiting for treatment, and they were keen to know more about the type of support that would make the greatest difference to people and how the NHS could improve communications with those waiting.


Although a broad NHS Recovery Plan for Scotland was announced in 2021, there’s still no detailed recovery plan specifically for elective care such as joint replacements. However, £330m of the £1bn recovery budget has been allocated for elective recovery, which includes the recruitment of 1500 additional staff to National Treatment Centres.

We believe that a dedicated plan focused on planned care would have the most positive impact on people waiting for life-changing joint replacement surgery in Scotland. There also needs to be much more consistent support in place for people on waiting lists.

To make sure this happens, we have met with a number of MSPs and are working closely with both the NHS and other charities. We have also signed a joint letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, expressing the need for a dedicated recovery plan for planned surgery.

Follow Scotland Versus Arthritis on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.


We successfully called for a Senedd Health Committee inquiry into the impact of long waiting times on those on waiting lists. The Committee published its findings at the start of April, and is now awaiting a response from Welsh Government.

In April 2022, the Welsh Government published their Planned Care Recovery Plan, backed up with an additional £170 million pounds to help the recovery.

Whilst the Welsh Government has acknowledged that orthopaedics, which includes joint replacement surgery, will be one of the biggest challenges for recovery, the plan itself does not specify whether targets will cover orthopaedics. We have highlighted our concerns to Members of the Senedd, which have been raised at Plenary with the Health Minister.

We will continue to monitor the delivery of the recovery plan and push for a dedicated national plan for orthopaedics to make sure there are improvements in accessing treatment and support.

We are also organising a joint event with the Royal College of Surgeons of England in Wales for Members of the Senedd regarding the future of elective orthopaedic services.

Follow Cymru Versus Arthritis on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date. You can also email us at CampaignsWales@versusarthritis.org to get involved with our Wales campaigning activities.

Northern Ireland

The Elective Care Framework is a five year £700m plan to reduce the backlog of patients waiting for assessment and treatment in Northern Ireland. However, whilst additional funding has been promised, the budget cannot be approved until there's a new Northern Ireland Executive in place.

Despite this setback, we are continuing to campaign for the delivery of the Framework and pushing for greater support for people on the waiting lists, so that patients are able and empowered to wait ‘well’.

We have met with the new Northern Ireland MSK (musculoskeletal) lead in the Department for Health, and the lead civil servant from the Department for Communities, championing the voices of people with arthritis to people with the power to make a real difference.

Following the Northern Ireland Election in May 2022, we’re also in a strong position to work with MLAs in the next Assembly.

Our dedicated campaigners sent over a thousand emails to candidates during our Northern Ireland elections, meaning we now have a third of elected MLAs committed to supporting people with arthritis. Read more about the election success in Northern Ireland

Follow Northern Ireland Versus Arthritis on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all our latest activities. We’d love as many of you as possible to be involved in our influencing work. Email us at NIPolicy@versusarthritis.org if you want to be part of the change for people with arthritis.

Get involved

Join our campaign network to receive regular updates and to make sure that arthritis is kept on the agenda as UK Governments plan the future of our health services.

We are here for you

If you want help, support or information, get in touch.

For local support, including pain management programmes, support groups, and services for young people and families take a look at In Your Area.