From a presentation by Marcel Levi, CEO of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Plans to reduce NHS waiting lists should take account of the fact that orthopaedic surgery is top of this list.
I know UCL is very respected medically but I do find this a bit bizarre.
As the grateful recipient of three new knees and two new hips, all of which have made big differences to my life, I still rate my two life-saving operations for a mastectomy and hemi-colectomy (for a twisted bowel) as having far more impact. After all, I'm still here.
Having also had surgery for both cancer and hip replacement, while I agree that the immediate benefits of hip surgery were much more noticeable, at least my hip wasn’t trying to kill me. Personally I’d put cancer surgery at No 1.
I've also had both a life saving cancer operation and a quality of life improving hip replacement operation. I'm incredibly glad to have had both. I agree life saving is clearly a priority but I believe the ranking order in this presentation was more about quality of life over a sustained period of time.
A related debate is the one about whether a treatment that may succeed in extending a life of low quality is better than a course of action that results in a shorter life of better quality. An incredibly difficult and sensitive issue where every case and individual's preferences are different. Having experienced such difficult situations with close relatives and friends in the final years of their lives, I know that with the benefit of hindsight in each case different choices might have been more to their liking. But it's impossible to rewind the clock and individuals and medical professionals can only do their best with the information available at the time. What is needed are better diagnostic tools that can more accurately predict the outcome of each alternative treatment and available course of action! Sorry for rambling on and getting too deeply philosophical!