Written by

Christian Beadell - Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

Hip and knee replacement surgeries are currently in high demand which is leading to longer waiting times for patients. Whilst patients are waiting for knee and hip replacements, they may experience their pain getting worse, having reduced mobility and their overall health getting worse. 

Hip and knee replacements are one of the NHS’s highest volume procedures, they complete approximately 14,000 hip replacement surgeries per month


Current NHS Waiting Times for Knee & Hip Replacements

If you are referred for a physical health condition, according to the NHS, you have the legal right to start non-urgent consultant-led treatment within the maximum waiting times. This right only applies to patients that receive services commissioned by the NHS in England. 

The maximum waiting time for a knee and hip replacement is 18 weeks. Your waiting time will start from the time that the hospital receives your referral letter or when you book your first referral appointment through the NHS. 

However, this waiting time could not be applied for a number of reasons:

  • If the patient decides to wait longer for treatment
  • If delaying the treatment is in the best clinical interests of the patient 
  • If it is appropriate for the patient’s condition to be actively monitored without a replacement 
  • If the patient does not attend scheduled appointments 
  • If the treatment is no longer necessary


Statistics On NHS Waiting Times For Non-Urgent Consultant-Led Treatments: Including Knee and Hip Replacements In the UK

At the end of November 2022, there were only 59.6% patients that received treatment in the 18 week treatment time limit, meaning that there were 40.4% of patients that waited longer than 18 weeks to receive treatment for a mental or physical health condition, this statistic is including patients who were waiting for knee and hip replacements. The graph below, taken from the NHS, shows the amount of patients that received their treatment within the 18 week waiting time set by the NHS:

From the graph, you can see that since April 2016, the target to treat patients within 18 weeks has not been met, the data was at its lowest in 2020, meaning there was the highest number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks to receive treatment in 2020. 

There were 7.2 million patients waiting to start treatment at the end of November 2022,  and of those 7.2 million, 406,575 were waiting for more than 52 weeks, 48,961 were waiting more than 78 weeks and 1,423 patients were waiting for longer than 104 weeks for their treatment. 

Specific to trauma and orthopaedic services, in November 2022, there were only 56.5% of patients who received their treatment within the 18 week time frame, meaning there were 43.5% of patients who had to wait longer than the specified 18 weeks to receive their orthopaedic treatment such as knee and hip replacements. 


How Has The Covid-19 Pandemic Affected Knee and Hip Replacement Waiting Times? 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, England went into a nationwide lockdown, prior to this, all hospitals in England were told to cease any elective operations and discharge as many patients as they could. This meant that the admissions for hip replacements fell very quickly. In January 2021, it was discovered that 58,000 people had waited an average of 25 additional weeks for their hip replacement. 


How Can Increased Waiting Times For Knee & Hip Replacements Affect You?

Waiting longer for knee and hip replacements can have serious impacts on your health, your pain could potentially get worse and you could get reduced mobility and have to put strain on other areas of your body

Waiting longer also means that the surgery could become less effective because as your joint continues to deteriorate and your mobility gets worse, it is likely that your health will also get worse, for example you could gain weight and develop poor cardiovascular health. This can severely affect the patient because patients who go into surgery healthier will tend to have a better outcome after the treatment. 



Waiting a long time for knee and hip replacements can put physical strain on patients and potentially worsen their outcomes when they eventually receive the treatment. It is therefore extremely important that patients are receiving their hip and knee replacements within the 18 week time frame that the NHS has set out in order to have the best possible outcome after receiving the treatment. 

Whilst the NHS are working hard to achieve these targets, unfortunately incidents of negligence can still occur. If you have experienced any delays or cancellations regarding knee surgery and hip replacement surgery and this has led to the worsening of your condition, then please contact Patient Claim Line and speak to one of our medical negligence experts so that they can guide you through the claims process.


If you have been suffered as a result of negligence relating to Knee and Hip replacements at Colchester Hospital and Oaks Hospital, we are here to help.


If you have suffered complications after receiving a Nexgen knee replacement, our expert team is here to help you.

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