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Knees, hip and eye surgery at lowest level ‘for over five years’

Hip and knee replacements and eye operations are at their lowest levels for over five years, claims a new report into the effects of the NHS’s efficiency drive.

Health analyst company Dr Foster Intelligence warned that the number of knee operations has fallen for the first time since 2002, and that fewer cataracts operations are taking place now than in 2008.

They were unable to say whether this meant patients’ needs were going unmet, but said these data indicate that access to this type of operations were being reduced while money was still spent on treatments that experts had deemed ineffective, such as ‘knee washes’.

Dr Foster said the report was aimed at challenging GP commissioners to review whether they are making the right savings decisions in the face of austerity pressures.

Director of research Roger Taylor commented: ‘We have highlighted these figures to GPs so that throughout this period of austerity money can be spent wisely providing care for people that need it.

‘Across England as a whole, austerity has caused the NHS to be more careful about the way it spends money on planned care and to cut waste. But there are significant differences in how well commissioners are coping with the financial squeeze. The quality of the service you can expect to get from the NHS will increasingly be affected by how well your local commissioners manage their budgets.’

It comes after Pulse reported yesterday that GPs in some areas have been blocked from referring patients for bariatric surgery, because of the ‘fragmentation of services’ that commissioners claim has occurred since April.