BOA and RCS joint response to The Sunday Times article on hip and knee surgery in obese patients

06 Jan 2019

Below is a statement the BOA and the Royal College of Surgeons issued in response to an article in The Sunday Times on a rise in hip and knee surgery in obese patients.


“It’s important to note that these figures reflect where obesity is considered relevant to patient care and do not identify whether patients underwent hip or knee replacement as a result of obesity or not. The increase these figures show will be due in part to better awareness of obesity and improved data collection.

“Osteoarthritis, which may lead to the need for a hip or knee replacement, is a complex, multifactorial disease. Obesity might hasten and worsen symptoms but it is not a primary cause of osteoarthritis.

“In recent years, many clinical commissioning groups have begun to restrict access to hip and knee replacement surgery for obese patients – denying or delaying their surgery until they have lost weight.

“While it’s absolutely right that the NHS looks at how it helps patients to lose weight for their overall health, it is unfair, and goes against the principles of the NHS, to make it a condition of receiving treatment.

“Hip and knee replacements are some of the most clinically effective and economical treatments available on the NHS, greatly improving the quality of life for those patients who receive them.”

BOA Treasurer, John Skinner, was quoted in the article clarifying that children having hip replacement surgery was rare.

The full Sunday Times article can be found online here (paywall).

Policy position statements