Knee replacement cost

The first question any patient should ask themselves if they think that they might need knee replacement, and assuming that they potentially have sufficient funds, is: ‘why go private, and why pay for your surgery when you can get it for free on the NHS?‘…

The NHS is one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and quite rightly, in the UK were are very proud of the NHS and its staff and the amazing care that it delivers: care that is free for all at the point of delivery. However, the NHS is under enormous stress, more so now than ever! In July 2019 there were approximately 4.4 million people waiting for surgery within the NHS within England alone. The 2020 COVID-19 crisis has seen all non-emergency non-time-critical surgery put on hold, and as a result of this waiting lists have skyrocketed. It is anticipated that by the autumn of 2020 there will be over 8 million patients waiting for surgery within the NHS, and we are now facing a national crisis of non-COVID pathology as a consequence of the 3-month lockdown and of the significantly reduced ‘productivity’ rates and turnaround of cases because of all the new procedures and precautions that have been put in place to protect patients from COVID contamination.

It really should be emphasised that people paying for their surgery within the Indepedent Sector actually helps the country enormously! Private patients are effectively paying for their healthcare twice: first, through their taxes, and then second, from their own pockets to access the Independent Sector. They are therefore paying for a place within the public system that they are not actually using, and which they are thereby freeing up and leaving free for others who are less fortunate and who might not actually be able to afford private healthcare.

The benefits of private healthcare

There are many benefits to having your knee replacement done privately:

  • The first and most obvious benefit, especially in current times, is speed of access, with little, if any, waiting lists.
  • Within the NHS, patients are part of a ‘system’, and they have to fit in with that system, and appointments and operation slots are allocated as availability allows. This is understandable, because in any system where resources are limited and the system is under pressure, it is important that there are efficiencies of throughput that favour ‘the system’. Within the private sector, however, patients have far greater opportunity to pick and choose times and dates that better suit them, as individuals.
  • The most important benefit of private healthcare, however, is that one gets to choose exactly who one’s surgeon is, and this is one of the most important things that can enormously influence your long-term outcomes. Within the NHS, your surgery may be performed by a trainee or by a non-consultant ‘staff grade’ doctor. Or, your surgery may be performed by a surgeon who is more of a generalist, rather than someone who specialises purely in nothing but knees. Unfortunately, even many private medical insurance companies now divert patients to the cheapest surgeon, rather than the best (purely so that the insurance company can save themselves money, at the expense of the actual patient!). However, if you are self-funding within the Independent Sector, then you have the power to do you own research and to pick and choose exactly which surgeon you want to do your knee replacement, and this is terribly important.
  • The next big issue is time! Within the NHS, clinic appointments are brief and your opportunity to liaise directly with your surgeon and to discuss in full any queries or concerns you might have is very limited. Likewise, sadly even some ‘fee assured’ consultants within the private sector (those who have signed specific contracts with insurance companies for increased volumes of work at reduced rates) are only allocating patients brief 15 or 20-minute clinic slots. If you are paying for private healthcare then you deserve proper time with your consultant, and the best consultants offer their patients 30 to 60-minute slots, depending on the needs of the patient. You need proper time face-to-face with your consultant to ensure that he/she has the fullest possible understanding of who you are as a person, what your knee issues are, and, importantly, what your issues and concerns mean to you, as an individual. So, you can actually buy time! A surgeon who rushes you will most probably also rush your knee replacement surgery, and is that something you really want?!
  • Finally, if you are paying for your knee replacement surgery privately, with a private consultant who spends sufficient time and attention to your individual issues, requirements and wishes, then you have a far better chance of being able to choose exactly what procedure and what specific type of knee replacement prosthesis might suit you best.

CLICK HERE to read one patient’s account of her experiences of private healthcare compared to her treatment within the NHS system.

What are the various costs involved?

There are various elements and different stages involved in having knee replacement surgery within the Indepedent Sector, and the separate things that need to be considered are:

  • Outpatient clinic appointments.  These are usually charged on a per appointment basis. Most patients will need one or two clinic appointments with their consultant before it might be deemed suitable for the patient to actually be listed for surgery.
  • X-rays and MRI scans.  It is vital that you have the proper necessary full imaging that might be necessary for your consultant to determine exactly what your specific diagnosis is and what specific treatment options might be suitable for you.
  • The hospital costs.  It is the hospital’s costs that are by far the largest element of the overall cost of having knee replacement surgery privately, and the hospital will charge you for:
    • the cost of the surgical theatre time and equipment
    • the cost of the actual knee replacement prosthesis
    • the cost of your inpatient stay on the ward, post-operatively
    • the inpaitent physiotherapy treatments that you receive prior to discharge and
    • the cost of whatever drugs (e.g. painkillers and blood thinners) you might be sent home on.
  • Outpatient physiotherapy rehab sessions.  Regular intensive post-operative physio rehabilitation is essential if you want to achieve a good outcome after knee replacement surgery, and you will need to arrange this with whoever your best local private physiotherapist might be. Ideally, you will need to be seen x 2 or 3 a week for the first few weeks, just gradually reducing the frequency of your face-to-face sessions as you improve, with you then simply doing more of the exercises yourself, on your own, and with your physiotherapist supervising and monitoring your progress. The cost of post-op physio sessions will be charged to you directly by your physio, at whatever their person rates might be. However, the post-op physio is definitely not something to be scrimped on!
  • Clinic follow-up appointments with your surgeon.  Most surgeons normally see their knee replacement patients back in clinic at about 10 to 14 days post-op (to check the wound and to remote any skin staples that might have been used for skin closure), and then at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months post-op. These clinic appointments are normally charged for individually, separate from the cost of the surgery itself.

How much does a knee replacement cost?

Fees vary between different hospitals and different consultants, and prior to proceeding with any private healthcare you should always get a specific quote in advance for the costs.

The hospital costs for private knee replacement surgery vary between about £12,000 in some of the smaller or more provincial hospitals, to about £15,000 in the bigger more prestigious Central London private hospitals (who have ‘Oustanding’ CQC ratings), with the very best top-of-the-range custom-made knee replacements costing in the region of about £20,000.

These figures are for the hospital’s costs alone. There are separate additional fees that will also be charged by your surgeon and by the anaesthetist for their professional fees, and you should check these and get a specific quote for these from your consultant’s secretary in advance of going ahead.

Find out more and get a quote

CLICK HERE to contact us for a quote or to book an appointment for an assessment of your knee