Sad dog waiting

The people of the UK are very lucky to have the National Health Service, but it’s fair to say that the NHS is far from perfect. Issues like crowded waiting rooms, bed shortages and understaffing have plagued hospitals across the nation for decades. These problems are largely caused by insufficient NHS funding. However, for scoliosis sufferers seeking spinal treatment on the NHS, one negative outweighs all others: the notorious length of NHS waiting lists.  

NHS Waiting Times

Unfortunately, a lot of NHS services come with interminable waiting times. Even a simple X-ray can take weeks to arrange, while surgical operations and other treatments can roll into the months, depending on the perceived urgency. According to, the maximum waiting time for non-urgent, consultant-led treatments is 18 weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service or the hospital receives your referral letter. If the hospital cancels your operation at the last minute for non-clinical reasons, they should offer another binding date within 28 days; however, if your operation is cancelled before the day of admission, the hospital is not obliged to provide an alternative option within 28 days.  

Luck of the Draw?

This NHS patient information pamphlet on scoliosis surgery simply states that “there is usually a wait before your operation, and the amount of time can vary”. You may be seen sooner if your case is especially urgent, but in most cases, the length of your wait will come down to luck.  

Hospital waiting room

The Effects of Waiting Times on Scoliosis

A study published in Orthopaedic Proceedings reported that, according to an independent investigation of 61 scoliosis patients, the average waiting time for scoliosis surgery was actually ten months. Worse still, the extended waiting time resulted in 20% of those patients suffering “significant curve progression” as a result, and 10 of the 61 patients (approximately 16%) required more extensive surgery than originally planned. The report concluded that long waiting times can have a detrimental effect on the surgical management of scoliosis patients.  

ScolioGold: An Alternative to Waiting

The stats and figures surrounding NHS waiting times can be rather alarming for people with scoliosis, especially for those awaiting surgical treatment. But there may be another way. The Scoliosis SOS Clinic run regular scoliosis treatment courses, allowing you to choose your preferred treatment dates instead of spending months on a waiting list. After your initial consultation, you will be given a summary of the clinical diagnosis, informed of the proposed treatment (including expected outcomes) and given an overview of our estimated timescales. Our therapists treat scoliosis patients using the ScolioGold method, which encompasses a variety of proven non-surgical techniques such as the Schroth method and FITS.

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