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BACKGROUND: While the United Kingdom National Health Service aimed to reduce social inequalities in the provision of joint replacement, it is unclear whether these gaps have reduced. We describe secular trends in the provision of primary hip and knee replacement surgery between social deprivation groups. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used the National Joint Registry to identify all hip and knee replacements performed for osteoarthritis from 2007 to 2017 in England. The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2015 was used to identify the relative level of deprivation of the patient living area. Multilevel negative binomial regression models were used to model the differences in rates of joint replacement. Choropleth maps of hip and knee replacement provision were produced to identify the geographical variation in provision by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). A total of 675,342 primary hip and 834,146 primary knee replacements were studied. The mean age was 70 years old (standard deviation: 9) with 60% and 56% of women undergoing hip and knee replacements, respectively. The overall rate of hip replacement increased from 27 to 36 per 10,000 person-years and knee replacement from 33 to 46. Inequalities of provision between the most (reference) and least affluent areas have remained constant for both joints (hip: rate ratio (RR) = 0.58, 95% confidence interval [0.56, 0.60] in 2007, RR = 0.59 [0.58, 0.61] in 2017; knee: RR = 0.82 [0.80, 0.85] in 2007, RR = 0.81 [0.80, 0.83] in 2017). For hip replacement, CCGs with the highest concentration of deprived areas had lower overall provision rates, and CCGs with very few deprived areas had higher provision rates. There was no clear pattern of provision inequalities between CCGs and deprivation concentration for knee replacement. Study limitations include the lack of publicly available information to explore these inequalities beyond age, sex, and geographical area. Information on clinical need for surgery or patient willingness to access care were unavailable. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found that there were inequalities, which remained constant over time, especially in the provision of hip replacement, by degree of social deprivation. Providers of healthcare need to take action to reduce this unwarranted variation in provision of surgery.

Original publication




Journal article


Plos med

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Humans, Female, Aged, State Medicine, Cohort Studies, Osteoarthritis, England, Social Deprivation, Registries