Retired engineer, 75, pays £18,000 for a private knee replacement before being offered free surgery

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Retired engineer, 75, pays £18,000 for a private knee replacement after being told he had a two-year wait on the NHS – before being offered free surgery days after he got home from hospital

  • John Peake, 75, was put forward for two NHS knee replacements by a GP in May
  • Orthopaedic consultant at Stafford County Hospital warned of the two year wait
  • Unable to bear the pain any longer, Peake forked out £18,000 for private surgery
  • Three days after leaving hospital he was phoned by the NHS, offering operation 


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A retired engineer forked out £18,000 for a private knee replacement after being told he would have to wait up to two years for the operation – only to be offered NHS surgery days after he got home from hospital.

John Peake, 75, was put forward for NHS surgery in May after an orthopaedic consultant at Stafford County Hospital agreed he needed both arthritic knees replaced.

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He put Mr Peake on the waiting list to have his right knee replaced, which was worse than his left.

‘He said it would be 12 or 18 months – or even two years – until I had the operation,’ Mr Peake said.

Unable to bear the pain for that long, and conscious that time was ticking, he took £18,000 from his retirement savings to fund private surgery, which took place on September 29.

But just three days after being discharged, he received a call from an administrator at NHS North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), telling him that ‘an opportunity has come up for you to have your NHS orthopaedic procedure done in a private hospital, within the next few weeks’.

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A retired engineer forked out £18,000 for a private knee replacement after being told he would have to wait up to two years for the operation – only to be offered NHS surgery days after he got home from hospital (stock image)

A retired engineer forked out £18,000 for a private knee replacement after being told he would have to wait up to two years for the operation – only to be offered NHS surgery days after he got home from hospital (stock image)

Mr Peake, from Staffordshire, said: ‘My wife’s first thought was that they called me to give me a kicking because they knew I’d just gone private. But I’ve got absolutely no evidence that’s the case.’

Mr Peake told the NHS administrator that he had just had his right knee replaced and asked if he could use the vacant slot to replace his left knee. However, he was told he would have to seek a new referral for that – possibly meaning a fresh two-year wait.

His experience comes a week after The Mail on Sunday revealed how record numbers of patients are being forced to fund their own operations at private hospitals because of NHS waiting lists.

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Hip and knee replacement patients have been particularly badly affected.

Mr Peake is just one of 692,352 patients waiting for orthopaedic treatment on the NHS in England, according to analysis of official figures. The number has risen by a third since August 2019.

Orthopaedic patients make up the biggest chunk of the record 5.7 million now on NHS waiting lists in England.

The number waiting over a year for orthopaedic treatment has risen from 378 in August 2019 to 61,677 in August 2021, according to analysts at consultants LCP.

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LCP’s Waiting List Tracker shows that 3,656 people have been waiting more than a year in the Norfolk and Waveney area, which has a population of one million (stock image)

LCP’s Waiting List Tracker shows that 3,656 people have been waiting more than a year in the Norfolk and Waveney area, which has a population of one million (stock image)

LCP’s Waiting List Tracker shows that 3,656 people have been waiting more than a year in the Norfolk and Waveney area, which has a population of one million. Meanwhile, just 355 people in Lincolnshire (population 769,000) share that fate.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said that its administrator was unaware Mr Peake had undergone private surgery on his knee.

A spokesman said: ‘NHS clinical commissioners are working with all our hospital providers to bring down waiting lists and treat patients as soon as possible.

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‘Extra capacity has been commissioned in the independent sector, resulting in some patients being offered accelerated appointments for orthopaedic procedures.’

NHS England said caring for 450,000 Covid patients in hospital ‘has had an inevitable impact on the ability to deliver other care for less urgent conditions’.

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