By: 19 February 2018
Hip replacements could save UK economy £700 million over next ten years

Hip replacements save the UK economy £65 million per year and have returned thousands of people to the workplace, a new report by the Medical Technology Group has revealed.

The report Keeping Britain Working – How medical technology can help reduce the cost of ill health to the UK economy concludes that each year £476 million in savings could be generated from the use of eight technologies in reduced long-term health costs and benefit payments. If that money was put back into the NHS it would pay for 20,000 nurses or 10.5 million GP visits.

A considerable proportion of the savings (15 per cent) comes from hip replacements. Over 100,000 total hip replacements were performed in 2016, an increase of over 29,000 since 2009. Almost a third of hip replacement patients are of working age, with around 60 per cent returning to work after their operations. This means that just over 18,500 people, who would otherwise have been unable, returned to work. Based on the annual cost of Jobseeker’s Allowance of £3,801, the saving to the UK economy in benefits alone amounts to £70 million. The saving will be £352 million over the next five years and £704 million over the next decade.

Orthopaedics is one of eight areas highlighted in the report to illustrate the value that medical technology delivers and its potential to help the NHS balance its books. The study also examined data for implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs); insulin pumps; diagnostics, including sepsis; fibroid embolisation; pain management; wound care; and coronary angioplasty.

Barbara Harpham, Chair of the Medical Technology Group, said, “Medical technology has an enormous impact, both in terms of the quality of life that it offers patients and in the cost savings to the health service and the wider economy. Very often a single procedure can get a patient back to work or caring for their family and can instantly eliminate thousands of pounds in longer term treatment or unplanned admissions. In fact, we have not yet tapped into the full potential of all the medical technology currently available.

She added: “The trouble is that the upfront cost of medical technology often means patient access is being limited and cheaper short-term solutions being chosen; in other words, a false economy.

“With the NHS budget under increasing pressure, it’s time we rethink the approach to rationing medical treatments that gives people back their lives. It may look good on paper in this budget year, but doesn’t benefit patients and costs the health service more in the long run.”

The MTG’s report builds on data from a study by the Work Foundation in 2011. The research concluded that the UK economy saved £90 million per year by using three medical technologies: hip replacements; insulin pumps; and ICDs.”

Source: Medical Technology Group