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Knee replacements 'not rationed' to save cash in Blackburn with Darwen
12:51pm Tuesday 10th December 2013 in News
HEALTH bosses have denied rationing surgical procedures to save cash, after researchers highlighted a ‘significant’ drop in knee operations.
The Dr Foster research unit found there was a 29 per cent reduction in knee replacements in Blackburn with Darwen from 2010 to 2012.
The number of planned knee replacements had increased gradually from 2005 to 2010, rising from 78 to 194, but has since dropped to 137.
This is against a backdrop of an ageing population and an increasing demand for healthcare, while nationally, the numbers have remained relatively stable, the Dr Foster team said.
There was also a ‘significant’ 13 per cent reduction in cataract surgery in Blackburn with Darwen over the same period but a three per cent rise in hip replacements.
Dr Chris Clayton, clinical chief officer at Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which decides how NHS cash is spent, said: “Although the Dr Foster reports indicates the CCG appears to be rationing access for patients requiring knee or cataract surgery, I can categorically confirm this is not the case.
“NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG places no limits on patients referred for surgery for these procedures. As long as the patient has been diagnosed as clinically appropriate for surgery, and they meet local criteria which is line with national guidance, then the CCG does not place any restrictions on access to surgery.
“The drop in figures could be down to a number of factors such as a reduction in patients requiring these operations, or how these procedures are being coded on the hospital system.”
Roger Taylor, co-founder of Dr Foster, said the findings suggested cost cutting measures were having an impact on ‘highly effective’ treatments in some areas.
He added: "There are significant differences in how well commissioners are coping with the financial squeeze.”
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