Do you need hip replacement surgery?
You may already have had an initial consultation with a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on the NHS. Your doctor will usually recommend hip replacement surgery if you’re experiencing constant severe pain in your hip, which is causing reduced mobility and affecting your sleep, mental health and overall quality of life. Whether you’re referred for surgery depends on whether you’re well enough to cope with major surgery and the recovery process afterwards.
Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for hip replacement surgery in the UK; however, you may also need one because of other types of arthritis, a hip fracture or another bone deformity.
Since a hip replacement is a major operation, your consultant will likely explore other non-surgical treatments before recommending hip replacement surgery.
Steroid injections reduce inflammation in the body, helping to reduce pain and swelling in your hip. They’re usually given in hospital, and the effects can last for a few months. Some will also include a local anaesthetic to provide pain relief.
You’ll generally only be able to have around three injections in 12 months.
Physiotherapy treatment can help to increase mobility in your hip joint. You’ll typically undergo a course of treatment sessions initially. Your physiotherapist will also give you exercises to continue the process at home.
Our information relates mainly to the cost of a total hip replacement. However, this isn’t the only type of hip replacement surgery.
Total hip replacement
Total hip replacement surgery (also known as total hip arthroplasty) involves replacing your damaged hip joint with a prosthetic joint. It uses a metal stem and a metal or ceramic ball. The damaged bone is also removed to allow the new hip joint to be fitted.
Hip revision surgery
Hip revision surgery is used when you’ve already had hip replacement surgery, but the hip replacement has become worn out over time. A prosthetic joint will usually wear out after about 15 years. Hip revision can be complex as it involves removing bone and potentially reconstructing the joint. This can impact the success of the operation and your recovery time.
Hip resurfacing is typically offered to active people under 60. The main benefit is that it causes less hip pain than a total hip replacement as less bone is removed. It replaces the damaged surface of your hip with a cover that can help you achieve greater mobility post-surgery.
Your surgeon will talk you through the process before a hip replacement, but here’s our brief guide. The steps you need to take before and after surgery are similar regardless of the type of hip replacement surgery you have, so we’ll start with those first.
You’ll have some pre-operative checks, including blood tests, at the hospital when you should let your doctor know about your medical history and any medication you’re taking. It’s also important to look after your physical health at home. If you smoke, it’s a good idea to try and stop. Eat well and stay as active as you can.
Straight after surgery, you’ll be taken to the recovery room to come round. You may have a drip delivering fluids and pain relief. While in hospital, you’ll see a physiotherapist who’ll give you exercises to help you start moving again. You’ll be able to go home as soon as your pain is well controlled and your medical team are happy with your mobility.
Recovering from the operation can take about six weeks. You’ll be given support stockings to wear to prevent blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. Be cautious when you start resuming normal activities, as full recovery could take up to a year. Your doctor and physiotherapist will advise you on this.
What happens during a total hip replacement?
Hip replacement surgery can be done by using a general anaesthetic, where you’re asleep throughout the procedure, or using a spinal anaesthetic, where you’ll stay awake but won’t have any feeling in your lower body.
Your surgeon will cut the side of your hip and remove the damaged hip joint and any damaged thigh bone. Then they’ll replace it with your new hip joint. The artificial joint can be fixed to the bone with cement, or it may have an adhesive coating. Finally, they’ll close the cut with stitches, staples or tape. The whole process takes about 1-1.5 hours.
What happens during hip resurfacing?
Most hip replacements are carried out using a spinal anaesthetic which numbs you from the waist down but lets you stay awake. If your anaesthetist thinks a general anaesthetic would be better they’ll discuss this with you.
During surgery, your surgeon will cut into the outside of your hip and then remove and clean the damaged joint surfaces. They’ll then place a cover onto the ball and socket joints. These may have a special coating which allows them to be stuck straight to the bone, or the surgeon will use acrylic cement to fix them in place. The operation will take about 1-1.5 hours.
If you’ve been suffering from hip pain for a while, the main appeal of private hip surgery may be that you’re able to have it quickly. Private treatment certainly has a shorter waiting time, but that’s not the only benefit.
Avoiding NHS waiting lists
If you’ve already had a consultation with an NHS surgeon, you’ve likely been given a waiting time of around 18 months to 2 years for your hip replacement. This is fairly typical for joint replacement surgery. The latest waiting list statistics show that over 300,000 people have been waiting for more than a year for elective treatment, with over 8,000 waiting over 2 years. Whilst these figures don’t all relate to hip replacements, it still makes for a sobering read.
We spoke to Heather, who had private hip replacement surgery earlier this year. She said,
“I waited almost a year for an NHS consultation but ended up paying for one... The consultant also works for the NHS and would have put me on the NHS list, but I’d have waited two years for surgery.”
A private room
Whether you have your hip replacement in a private hospital or as a private patient in an NHS hospital, you’ll be able to rest and recover in your own room rather than on the main ward.
If you opt for a private clinic, you may find yourself in surroundings that are more like a boutique hotel. You may have an en-suite bathroom, TV and restaurant-quality food.
Continuity of care
You have a right to choose your consultant whether you opt to have hip surgery with the NHS or privately. However, with a private hip operation, you’ll typically be seen by the same consultant throughout the process, rather than by someone else in their team.
Access to cutting-edge treatments
Private treatment providers typically use their revenue to invest in the latest equipment, drugs and treatments to benefit their patients. You may find their hip replacements are carried out using new technologies, including robotics or minimally invasive surgery, which lowers the risks involved in your hip replacement operation.
The average cost of private hip replacement surgery in the UK is £12,712.92. Whilst this will give you a rough guide to the price you might expect to pay for your new hip, you’ll probably find that the cost of your hip surgery will vary depending on where you are in the country. The cost of your private hip surgery can range from £11,838 to £13,542.38.
Why does the cost of private hip replacements vary?
There are a lot of different factors that impact the cost of a private hip replacement. These include:
- Location: where you’re treated can make a huge difference to the cost of your hip surgery, with private treatment in London costing 10-20% more than in other locations.
- Equipment costs: Whilst access to cutting-edge treatments is a real benefit in private hip replacements; it also means that your hospital needs to pay a higher cost to invest in the latest equipment.
- Medication: After NHS surgery, your hip pain is likely to be managed by conventional painkillers. However, a private provider is more likely to invest in the latest drugs to give you a better outcome after your hip replacement.
- Your chosen consultant: Consultant orthopaedic surgeons invest in ongoing training and gain more experience over time. If the person carrying out your hip surgery is highly experienced, it’ll give you a better result, but you’ll pay more for the privilege.
- Staffing: Your treatment doesn’t just involve a surgeon; it involves a whole team of medical professionals. If you’re being treated in an area with a higher cost of living, their fees will be higher too.
- Facilities costs: Rent, business rates and the costs of utilities will all vary depending on the hospital’s location.
- Insurance: Hip surgery can be risky, so every hospital needs insurance in case something goes wrong. Your surgeon may also have their own insurance, which will influence their fee.
- Information technology: Every hospital needs phones, computers and a way to safely store your data.
- Profit: Most private healthcare providers are businesses that need to look after their shareholders. While some are not-for-profit, most will factor in some profit to the cost of your surgery.
As we’ve already mentioned, wages, rent and utility costs will vary based on your location, with the highest costs being found in London. The most expensive hospital we’ve found is the King Edward VII Hospital in London, where hip replacement surgery costs £15,640.00. By contrast, if you head to the Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast, you’ll pay just £11,838.00. Of course, if you’re in Birmingham, a trip to Belfast to get your hips replaced may not be a practical option.
However, you might consider travelling to another nearby city if it means that you’ll pay less for your hip replacement surgery. Here’s what you might expect to pay in a handful of cities across the UK.
Most providers will give you a fixed price quote if you’re paying for your own surgery in the UK, so you know what to expect. It’s important to check quotes carefully as different providers include different elements. You might think that one quote seems expensive but find that it includes more follow-up appointments, other treatments and rehabilitation. Some surgeons may quote the cost of replacing both hip joints, while others will start with one hip only.
What’s included in the cost?
The medical treatment costs that are included in your quote will vary with different hospitals and insurance providers.
When you decide to explore the possibility of private hip replacement surgery, you may already have had an appointment with an NHS consultant, which allows you to be referred for a private hip replacement straight away.
Diagnostic tests and scans
If you go to a private appointment having already had scans and x-rays, your treatment provider will be able to refer to these, so they aren’t usually included. If you need scans or x-rays, you’ll typically need to pay for them separately.
Assessments before surgery
You’ll need to have some assessments and tests before you have surgery to assess whether you’re fit enough to have the operation and to determine what type of anaesthetic you need. These are typically included in the price.
Your surgery costs, including the surgeon’s fee, anaesthetist’s fee and the hip implant itself, will all be included.
The costs of your stay in the hospital, including your room and food, are typically included.
Treatment after surgery
The costs of your medication and nursing care whilst you’re still in hospital are all included. Most providers will also include the cost of any medication that you need to take home with you.
Rehabilitation and aftercare
After your hip replacement, you’ll need to have rehabilitation treatment and follow-up care to ensure you’re making a good recovery. This varies depending on the provider, with some offering unlimited aftercare whilst others don’t include any follow-up, discharging you to the care of your GP. It’s also worth checking whether the quote covers the cost of further surgery should you need it. Rehabilitation and aftercare are important considerations and can make a real difference to the cost, so it is important to check to see what’s included.
You have a right to choose where you’re treated and who by, whether you opt for private healthcare or the NHS.
In a private hospital
Most of the leading private healthcare providers have their own hospitals and clinics. If you have health insurance with one of these, you’ll typically receive treatment at one of their hospitals. Otherwise, you can prioritise a hospital close to home or one with the best record for hip replacements.
You’ll usually find high-quality facilities, hotel-style rooms and restaurant-standard food.
As a private patient in an NHS hospital
If you’ve had your initial consultation via the NHS, you may find that your consultant orthopaedic surgeon also works privately. You could opt to pay to have your operation at the same hospital and with the same surgeon, as you would have done with the NHS.
Choosing this option will enable you to be treated more quickly, and it’s often cheaper than a private facility. You’ll also be able to stay in a separate room rather than in the main ward.
If you have health insurance already, this is likely to be your best payment option. However, if your insurance doesn’t cover hip replacement surgery or you don’t have insurance, you can still access private treatment.
If you’re able to pay for your hip replacement out of your savings, most hospitals offer a self-pay option. You’ll be able to pay for an initial appointment and get a fixed price quote for your hip replacement surgery.
If you need a self-pay option but aren’t able to pay the full price in one go, many providers allow you to spread the cost with a medical loan. Nuffield Health, Spire and Circle Group all offer loans via their finance partners with 0% interest for the first few months.
Private medical insurance
Your existing private medical insurance offers the perfect solution if you need hip replacement surgery. You may still need to see your GP for a diagnosis, but once your need for treatment has been confirmed, your GP can refer you for your private hip replacement.
Can I take out health insurance to cover my hip surgery?
Health insurance is designed to cover new conditions that arise after you’ve taken out cover, which means that any pre-existing conditions are automatically excluded. Unfortunately, this means that if you’ve already seen your GP about pain in your hip or if you’re on a waiting list for a hip replacement, you won’t be able to take out insurance to cover the cost.
If you’re considering paying for your surgery, private healthcare providers’ websites are a good place to start. You can look for providers who run hospitals in your area and contact them for further information. Of course, that isn’t your only option, so we’ve listed a few alternatives below.
Private healthcare providers in the UK
These are the best private healthcare providers with their own private hospitals. HCA is mainly based in London, with one hospital in Manchester; however, the other providers have many hospitals across the UK, so you can find one that’s local.
- Spire Healthcare - 39 hospitals
- HCA - 6 hospitals (5 in London and 1 in Manchester)
- Nuffield Health- 37 hospitals
- Circle Health Group (formerly BMI) - 54 hospitals
- Ramsay Health - 33 hospitals
Speak to a private medical insurance provider
Many insurance providers offer a self-pay option even if you don’t have private health insurance.
Speaking to a private medical insurance provider before taking out a policy or undergoing treatment can help answer any questions about costs.
Speak to your NHS consultant
If you feel comfortable with the consultant orthopaedic surgeon you’ve seen via the NHS, talk to them about the possibility of having private treatment with them and what the costs would be.
At myTribe, our guides are designed to give you a better understanding of private healthcare and how it can work for you. We hope this guide has helped you to understand how you could have your hip replacement surgery privately and where you can find further information.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a rip replacement cost in the UK privately?
The average cost of a private hip replacement in the UK is £12,712.92 (May 2022). However, the price you pay will depend on your location and hospital.
How long is the wait for a private hip replacement?
Typically the wait for a private hip replacement is far shorter than via the NHS. Most people will wait for less than a month for their surgery.
Can I get a hip replacement privately?
Yes, you can go private if you have private medical insurance or the funds to pay for your treatment.
What are the types of hip replacement surgery?
The three main types of hip replacement surgery are:
- Total hip replacement - replacing your damaged hip joint with a prosthetic.
- Hip revision surgery - is typically required after 15 years of initial hip replacement.
- Hip resurfacing - reduces hip pain and is less invasive than a total hip replacement.