Private and NHS hip replacement waiting times explained

Many people come to us asking the question: how long is the waiting list for a hip replacement? Hip replacements are a common surgical procedure, particularly for older adults who may experience joint degeneration over time. Due to the high demand for hip replacements, waiting times for hip replacements on the NHS can be lengthy and cause frustration for those in need of surgery.

A painful hip

Read on to compare NHS and private hip replacement waiting times.

Enquire about hip surgery today

Call us on: 0333 321 1961

arthritis of the hip webinar

NHS hip replacement waiting times

The NHS’ aim is for everyone to have a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks from when the hospital receives your referral or you book your first appointment.

If you are looking at hip replacement through the NHS you can look on the NHS website My Planned Care to find out the waiting time in your local area. Look up your local hospital and see what the waiting time is for a particular specialty, in the case of hip replacement, you can see the general waiting time for orthopaedics.

The figure given will be the mean waiting time for the total number of patients waiting within the speciality at that hospital trust. It is good to note that this is for ‘planned care’ only.

Private hip replacement waiting times

At Practice Plus, if you are paying for yourself, the average time from booking enquiry to having your surgery is just 4-6 weeks. This tends to be significantly less than NHS waiting times. So, if you’re looking for an urgent hip replacement, self-pay healthcare may be an option you want to consider.

Other private providers should be able to give you specific information on the waiting times at a particular hospital. It’s good to ask detailed questions about timing and find out whether the appointment times and hospital admission time suits you.

Did you know?

Between 2021/22, the most common age for a hip replacement in the UK was 75-791.

Comparing private and NHS waiting times for hip surgery

If you are looking for a quicker solution to your hip pain, opting for self-pay surgery means you’ll get your treatment in just 4-6 weeks. Other benefits include:

  • an expert consultant from start to finish
  • first-class care
  • transparent, fixed prices.

When comparing NHS treatment times to private surgery waiting times, you could consider paying for yourself.

How to check waiting times for hip replacements in England

The NHS-run My Planned Care site is a really useful resource for keeping up with current waiting times. It allows you to select the region you live in, e.g. South East. Once on the South East webpage, you can select your nearest NHS Trust and then the speciality you want to look at for example, if you are looking for hip replacement times, search for “orthopaedics.” You will then be able to see the average waiting time either from GP referral to appointment or treatment.

Comparing waiting lists for hip surgery at different hospitals

You may find that if the waiting list at your chosen NHS hospital is particularly long that you can ask to switch hospital waiting lists. If you have been told that you will have to wait longer than 18 weeks for hip replacement surgery you could request to start treatment at a different hospital with shorter waiting times.

Pain in your hip?

If you’re experiencing hip pain, try our hip suitability quiz. It will give you an idea of whether you’d benefit from booking an initial consultation with one of our hip specialists.

What to do while waiting for hip replacement surgery

While waiting, you can prepare for hip replacement surgery by making sure that you are in good mental and physical condition. Taking care of your diet and making good lifestyle choices will help get your body ready for surgery.

How to minimise pain while waiting for hip replacement surgery

Planning activities of daily living can help to minimise pain and discomfort, you may find that making small adjustments helps. Doing daily tasks such as walking, driving or sitting at a desk can add to hip discomfort, so be sure to pace yourself. You can find some handy tips in our signs you need a hip replacement blog.

Pain relief while waiting for a hip replacement

Taking prescribed pain relief prior to a hip replacement can help keep you mobile and ease the discomfort caused by daily activities, such as bending down, and getting in and out of the car or bed. Your GP or consultant will be able to advise on the best pain relief to suit you.

Exercise while waiting for a hip replacement

Exercising whilst waiting for a hip replacement helps you establish a strong exercise regime before surgery that you can also continue afterwards, helping you to make a speedy recovery. A physiotherapy app like our own A physiotherapy app like our own ‘Pocket Physio’ can help guide you through pre-operative exercising and help maintain your fitness whilst you wait for your operation.

The impact of waiting for hip surgery

Waiting to receive treatment or surgery can have significant implications. It may mean spending longer in high levels of pain, which impacts quality of life. In some patients, it may also mean an increased risk of emergency admission due to fractures or make the hip surgery more complex and costly due to worsening condition of the joint.

How to reduce waiting times for hip replacement surgery

If you have been told that your operation will take more than 18 weeks, take a look at our tips to jump the NHS waiting list and have your surgery sooner.

Helping to reduce waiting times for surgery is something we do well at Practice Plus Group. During the pandemic our work had a significant impact on NHS surgical waiting lists. As an example, in our Ilford hospital, we were able to work with NHS colleagues to run joint replacement lists for seven consecutive days, with between 30 and 40 patients on our lists each day. The collaborative approach had a really positive effect on the lives of many people who had been waiting in discomfort for surgery.

At Practice Plus, the average waiting time from booking enquiry to surgery is just 4-6 weeks. Using our self-pay option, you can dramatically cut down the time you spend waiting for hip replacement surgery.

Don’t wait for treatment! Access consultant-led treatment at a time and place that suits you.

arthritis of the hip webinar

Sources and references


2 The Health Foundation

Hip replacement waiting times FAQs

Not yet found the hip replacement waiting time information you’re looking for? Our dedicated FAQs can help!

What were the effects of the pandemic on hospital waiting times for hip surgery?

According to The Health Foundation, due to the suspension of routine NHS care during the pandemic, by January 2021, 58,000 people had waited for an average of 25 additional weeks for their hip replacement. Some areas of England were worse affected than others with the North West and South West having 50% fewer admissions than usual2.

At Practice Plus we were able to support the NHS by carrying on with routine surgery that couldn’t be scheduled in NHS hospitals, where a shortage of staff and a surge in COVD-19 patients prevented the usual cadence of routine surgery.

What is the average hip operation waiting time?

The average waiting time for a hip replacement will vary according to the provider and where you live. It is often difficult to compare waiting times as there are different factors that can be measured. If you would like to do your own comparison consider the following factors:

– is the time measured from GP referral time or time seen by a consultant?
– is the waiting calculated from the first appointment or from diagnosis?
– if you choose to go to a different provider for the operation does this reset the clock?

It is good to make sure you are comparing like for like before making a decision on a provider.

Who is prioritised on the NHS waiting list for a hip operation?

Around a quarter of those who need a hip replacement will come through as an emergency, for example, those who have fractured their hip. This means a quarter of people who have a hip replacement will not go onto an NHS waiting list.

For those joining the waiting list, a healthcare professional will assess you and decide the urgency based on your individual needs.

How long should I wait for a hip replacement on the NHS?

The answer to this will depend on a few different factors. The first is the level of pain and discomfort you’re experiencing. If conservative pain management methods such as painkillers are no longer effective but you still have a long NHS waiting list ahead of you, going private may be an option to seriously consider. Likewise, if your physical and mental wellbeing are being impacted by your condition.

How long does it take to get a hip replacement privately?

At Practice Plus Group, it usually takes around a week to get an initial consultation. From there, you’ll be given a treatment plan and the dates for your surgery. This will take place just 4-6 weeks after your consultation.

How to get a hip replacement sooner?

If you’re on the NHS waiting list and want to have your surgery sooner, you could try the following:

– be prepared to travel to other NHS hospitals across the UK. These may have shorter waiting times than the ones in your location
– have your treatment privately
– keep yourself healthy and eligible for surgery

What makes a hip replacement urgent?

This is usually when the severity of your condition and its impact on your quality of life require prompt surgical intervention. Symptoms will likely include severe pain and disability to loss of function and structural damage. Speak to your care provider if you think your case is urgent.

Can you wait too long for a hip replacement?

If you are not sure whether you need a hip replacement or when the best time to have surgery is, talk to your orthopaedic consultant surgeon. They will be able to discuss your needs, perform tests and scans, and get an idea of how hip pain is affecting your activities. Signs you need a hip replacement can vary from person-to-person. Making a decision on the right time to have surgery can increase your quality of life, giving you more time to enjoy it.

What happens if you wait too long for a hip replacement?

If you delay hip replacement surgery for too long, it’s likely the damage to your joint will worsen. This could make the eventual surgery more difficult while increasing the risk of complications.

If your pain prevents you from being active in your everyday life, the stiffness in your joint may worsen over time, making movement difficult. That being said, it’s never too late for a hip replacement if it is deemed safe and beneficial by your consultant.

Is it good to walk while waiting for a hip replacement?

In a word: yes. In a few more words: if your pain levels allow.

If you can manage it, walking is a great way of staying fit while also helping to strengthen the muscles around your affected hip. Swimming will also help in this department if you find walking too painful.

Gyorgy Lovasz consultant


This article was completed with the help of Gyorgy Lovasz, Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon at Practice Plus Group. Among his qualifications are Specialist of Trauma & Orthopaedics, Budapest, and he spent three years in the UAE as a consultant orthopaedic-trauma surgeon. Mr Lovasz has performed more than 4000 orthopaedic procedures in the UK. His main field of interest is lower limb arthroplasty. Over the last few years Practice Plus Group has grown its Marketing Team to include art workers, campaign and social media managers, content editors, and digital analysts. Together, they provide a responsive and comprehensive service, ensuring all content is on-brand and in-line with relevant medical guidelines.
View profile


Thumbs-up icon

treatments carried out a month


Star icon

or 'good' ratings by CQC



clean record for hospital acquired infections


Thumbs-up icon

of patients recommend Practice Plus Group

See all reviews

Hip surgery, Barlborough – I would recommend Practice Plus Group without a shadow of a doubt

I was particularly pleased with how well-mannered and attentive everyone was. I had my hip replacement operation at 11.30am and when I came out of surgery, a meal was waiting for me. I was told that if my blood test looked good and the surgeon was happy with me when he saw me at 5pm I could go home that night, and that’s what happened. It was seamless.
by Terence Watson

Hip surgery, Shepton Mallet – we have saved £6,500

My wife had a total hip replacement yesterday at Practice Plus Group Hospital, Shepton Mallet. They were absolutely brilliant and if like me you maybe needing surgery but on a long waiting list and considering going private, they are definitely worth getting a quote from. We have saved £6,500 by going to them and not another private hospital. Her consultation was 27th May, operation 13th June, home on 14th.
by Mr Antoniou,

Hip surgery, Barlborough – aftercare was brilliant!

I went in for my new hip and was out within 3 days! The aftercare was also brilliant – 10/10!

by Peter

Hip surgery, Plymouth – at long last I am out of pain

Thank you very much for my TWO successful hip operations at long last I am out of pain and recovering well. Many thanks to you and all your staff. Best wishes.

by Brenda Sutton, Thank you card

Hip surgery, Shepton Mallet – back walking almost five miles a day

I was amazed at both the lack of hip and knee pain and the fact that I could walk so soon after the surgery. I’m making a fantastic recovery and am back walking almost five miles a day, including steep hills, and doing the exercises advised by the physiotherapist. From my very first visit, the care and consideration I received from the staff at the hospital was wonderful. Everyone I met in every role was wholly engaged as they performed it – receptionists, cleaners, X-ray technicians, nurses, doctors and other health professionals. My experience was extremely well managed.
by Ian Keys

Hip surgery – best experience ever for my hip replacement

I had the best experience ever for my hip replacement. Would highly recommend, thank you to all the staff involved throughout

by Franca

Hip surgery – tremendous skill, diligence and care

Tremendous skill, diligence and care at this hospital. They deserve their reputation as one of the best facilities in the UK for hip and knee replacements.

by Ian Keys, Google

Hip surgery, Southampton – would recommended to everyone

Had hip op recently. Big thanks to Mr Flood..Maria..and all the hospital staff they treated me with care ..respect thank you all for being there for me. Would recommended to everyone.

by Arthur Syson, Google

1 / 8

Get in touch