Having to go private

Elspeth Member Posts: 4
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:09 in Living with arthritis

Hello. I am 59. I have OA in my knees, wrists, fingers, feet. In the past I have had cortisone injections to my worst knee, which helped , and enabled me to keep up tennis and hiking. Sadly I had to give this up 2 years ago as my knee was continually flaring up and swollen, and my feet became too painful.The last cortisone shot was not effective and the GP told me there was very little joint space to inject and surgery was likely my next option. In the past 2 years I have been referred to physio and referred to an “escape pain” course, 2 hour classes twice a week for 6 weeks, for people with knee and hip OA. I was unable to participate in this as I couldn’t get the necessary time off work. I asked if I could attend once a week but they would not accept me on that basis. I continue to work but am now struggling with some of my tasks due to reduced mobility and pain. So, I saw my GP last week. I asked if a knee replacement would now be appropriate. I also asked if anything could be done to help my foot pain. I was told that nothing at all could be done. Without the escape pain course I could not be referred. I was also told cortisone shots are not used for foot OA. So, that was that! Just keep taking the naproxen and paracetamol! My GP referred me to a private knee consultant. That, he said, was the only option. He apologised. Now I can say goodbye to a pension pot I get when I reach 60, ironically from 23 years employment in the NHS, which now offers me zilch! Sorry to sound negative. Has anyone else had this situation?😥


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,710

    I'm sorry. This must be really galling, especially as you work for NHS. I'm afraid quite a few people on here have recently resorted to private medicine for their orthopaedic ops, my husband included. As you'll be aware, the NHS was in dire straits before covid and now it is really desperate. Presumably why so many hoops have to be jumped through to get a referral. If it's any consolation, even after a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon, most people seem to have to wait about two years now.

    Just a word of warning. If you can't take time off work for the Escape Pain course, will you be able to take off the necessary time for recovery from the surgery? Here's what the NHS says https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/knee-replacement/recovery/ I know, from my own experiences and my husband's that taking the time to let things heal properly is essential. It's all too easy to mess things up by rushing them.

    Good luck with your op. All mine (knees and hips) have been very successful.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740

    I'm really surprised at your employers not seeing the benefit of you taking a bit of extra time off work for a limited period (ie 6 weeks) given that they will benefit from you being more mobile at the end of it, particularly as you say you work for the NHS.

    If someone was having physio post-op or recovering from surgery, this would be a non-issue, of course you'd have to have it. In this case you are becoming disabled by a degernative condition, and HAVE to take this time off to attend the course as a condition of being referred for further treatments. Their response it totally unreasonable - they're willing to let you have 2 hours off per week for a fixed limited period, but not 4? A tad petty I feel. As a result you can't seek the treatment you would otherwise be entitled to and end up having to PAY to go privately as a direct result of your employers intransigence? Nah. Take this further. Do you have a union rep? Or just go to personnel? This is just wrong.

  • Elspeth
    Elspeth Member Posts: 4

    Thank you for your comments. I am not working in the NHS now. I work in care where employment rights like sick pay are few and far between. I will only be able to get statutory sick pay whilst recovering from knee op. I feel really sad about the state the NHS is in. I saw my parents benefit from the NHS and get their necessary joint replacements without long waits.

  • CliveClive
    CliveClive Member Posts: 28

    Hi there, sounds like the you are having many things to deal with - as well as the pain. I have hip OA and the point comes when the pain affects the quality of life. Getting the operation done may be better than hanging around. Good luck.

  • Bella59
    Bella59 Member Posts: 33

    Hi Elspeth,I had to go private last September and in April this year to get both my hips replaced.Like you I had to cash in my private pension pot.I had severe arthritis in both hips,unfortunately the waiting times on nhs is long for hip and knee replacements.I felt I could not wait another two years for ops.If you are going private try to do it sooner as prices will keep going up due to more people now going private they are really busy.I never envisaged having to go private but needs must.My sister has been waiting three years for new hip,like you she still has to work as she has another year before she gets state pension.I hope you get a new hip soon.

  • Bee2
    Bee2 Member Posts: 10

    Much empathy to this lady and all replies on this post 🙏🏼

    I too am going to head down the private route (severe seven.OA hips, spine and not knees.) I really can’t take much more agony and hoping to get the ball rolling for my hips to be done privately. Fingers crossed it will be soon. Just being at home on my own is now becoming so very hard to cope with generally. . Makes me cry a lot.

    I meditate on keeping my brain from over worrying about what will happen to me when this gets any worse. Mindfulness helps.

    If the employees knew what it’s like to try and live with this kind of pain they’d perhaps have a different tune! I wonder if citizens advice might have more info on how you can be more supported at work, I’m amazed at their lack of support for you right now.

    I’m sending out all best wishes for us all, keep posting.


  • Good luck if you decide to go private. As a rough guide:

    I had a full hip replacement on my left side in February 2020 at the Nuffield Hospital as I was covered by Bupa at the time through a work scheme I'd had since 2005 but never used. Unfortunately I got made redundant in October 2020 but my previous employer honoured BUPA until 28th February 2021 as they knew I was waiting for my 1 year appointment.

    The total cost was around 12k.

    This included pre operation assessments, xrays, 4 night hospital stay, anaesthetic, operation, physio, stitches removed, 3, 6, 9 and 12 month follow up appointments.

    I then started in a new job on 23rd November 2020 and transferred to Vitality Health on 23rd February 2021.

    I was very lucky to be able to transfer to Vitality without a break in cover as I was still insured by 5 days. This meant that my Rheumatoid Arthritis was still covered as well as both my children.

    I then had a full hip replacement on my right hand side in February 2022 but the cost has risen to around 14k so far. It's the same hospital and surgeon, so 2k inflation over 2 years.

    Hope that helps.

    I need to get both knees done but the surgeon wants me to hang fire for a few months. The current waiting list time is around 6 weeks near me so I plan to put my name down in December hoping for a date in February 2023