UK health insurer tries to cut funding for inappropriate knee surgery

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 02 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4965
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

A row has erupted between the UK private health insurer Bupa and a group of the country’s top orthopaedic surgeons, after Bupa accused some surgeons of carrying out knee procedures on patients without good medical reason.

Bupa, which funds around 19 000 arthroscopies every year, undertook a review of knee arthroscopies among its insured customers and found that the standardised event rate was more than twice as high among them as it was among NHS patients. Furthermore, some surgeons were more than three times as likely as others to carry out the procedure on Bupa patients.

Annabel Bentley, medical director of Bupa’s UK Health and Wellbeing Division, said, “We know as well that there are wide variations within the …

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