NHS England has confirmed that it will call time on a number of ‘ineffective’ and ‘risky’ procedures next year.
Under new guidelines to reduce costs and improve efficiency, NHS England will cease to provide 17 procedures, including treatment for snoring, tonsil removal and breast reductions. Treatment will still be offered in cases where there is “compelling” evidence to support the fact that the procedure would be beneficial for the individual patient.
It is estimated that around 100,000 procedures will be scrapped per year at a cost saving of up to £2 million.
The move has been criticised by the British Society of Surgery of the Hand, with representatives saying that it will cost the economy because people who have underlying problems will be unable to work. The NHS has stressed that procedures will be available for those who are at risk of harm as a result of their condition, and high risk cases will be evaluated on an individual basis.
NHS England stated that many of the patients who would be considered for a procedure will be advised to undergo different types of treatment, including physiotherapy, injections and changes in diet. Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director, explained that to achieve the best results, the NHS needs to stop providing treatments where the risks outweigh the benefits. By eliminating unnecessary and ineffective procedures, the NHS can divert funding and resources to areas of greater need and reduce waste.
The move has been backed by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Procedures that will be affected by the new guidelines include breast reduction, tonsillectomies, haemorrhoid surgery, removal of benign lesions, removal of bone spurs for non-specific shoulder pain, surgical treatment for snoring, carpal tunnel syndrome release and varicose vein surgery.