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wantoosoon wantoosoon

Waiting time for Achilles tendon surgery on the NHS?

I completely ruptured my Achilles tendon 3 weeks ago. From the start I requested surgery. A week later I saw a specialist and reiterated my request for surgery. He said he was putting me on the waiting list and I would get the surgery in 1-2 weeks. 

However, it's been two weeks and I haven't heard a thing. This is really frustrating as I can't start to recover until I have the surgery. Three weeks have been wasted.

The only means of contact I've been given is a phone number for the fracture clinic's "hotline", which always goes straight to voicemail. The mailbox is usually full up so messages can't be left. I've left messages when I can but no one calls back. Basically it's useless.

I've also spoken to my GP but he says there's nothing he can do as my treatment is already in process. Tomorrow I'm going to call some other numbers and if that doesn't work I'll go into the hospital and talk to someone. I know the NHS has severe resource shortages but I feel like I've been forgotten.

I'm not sure if my case is unusual. If you have the same condition, how long did you have to wait for surgery? I'm in east Kent if it's relevant.

13 Replies

  • jane43236 wantoosoon


    Sorry can’t comment on your surgery wait, but just wondered why you definitely want surgery as opposed to non surgical. I was in a Vacoped boot and could walk on it from day 1. I ruptured in February and am now 3 weeks out of my boot and having physio, and my tendon is strong and at 95% movement.  It’s a long process either way and I wish you luck. 


    • jane43236 wantoosoon


      I was dismissed by A&E initially, saying it was bruised, but after I looked into it more and not walking properly I went back to the doctor, who said it was completely ruptured - I had walked on it for 2 weeks at this point.  I saw a surgeon within 2 days and had an ultrasound which showed the ends were still close enough together to heal on their own.  I had a Vacoped boot - a new boot, which I understand is not in all hospitals, but with this you can be weight bearing from day one.  Over the course of 10-12 weeks, it is adjusted so that the tendon is stretched and then carries on healing.  I was sceptical the whole time, but when it came off at 11 weeks, it was healed smile 

      A totally personal opinion though and if that's your choice you would hope that surgery would be performed quickly.  Are you in a cast or any type of boot at the moment? Just thinking with a few more weeks going by, you could be half way through healing by now! Good luck 

    • wantoosoon jane43236

      Thanks Jane. I decided on surgery because i) it was a complete rupture, ii) recovery time appeared to be quicker, iii) there was a lower risk of re-rupture. This was based on what the nurse-practitioner told me and what I googled while waiting. 

      I'm still of the same opinion now, except that surgery will probably cost me time.

      It sounds like your rupture was partial if you were bearing weight after a week. Is that right?

      Thanks for the kind wishes! I hope your recovery continues smoothly.

  • Sks1982 wantoosoon


    I know exactly how you feel as I was in the same spot in 2016....  I went straight to private hospital as I luckily had cover through work but in the start it began in A and E. 

    I’m shocked hey have not come back to you for 3 weeks.... this is not good... personally I think surgery is the best route as it will maximise your chances of 100% recovery... 

    If you don’t hear anything tomorrow I would either turn up at A and E and just say you are in agony or go private... Good luck!!

    If there’s any advise I can give it is to try and push to get your surgery as a matter of urgency.... once done it is a long journey but be patient  and strong and you will get there!! Literally small steps!

    Best wishes!! 

    • wantoosoon Sks1982

      Thank you! Sadly I don't have private cover... I think private surgery is £3,000-£4,000 without cover. I can't afford that.

      Yes, I'll keep pushing for surgery. It's a shame Achilles tendon surgery is grouped with other non-urgent operations, as not being able to walk is kind of an urgent situation... 

      Are you back to your pre-injury level of activity now?

  • breeze61 wantoosoon

    Hi, Commiserations on breaking your tendon, it's a real shock to bear and not getting a fast service makes things worse. I ruptured mine 3 weeks ago and got put in a flimsy bandage support, at A and E, so was walking around doing more damage for a week before being put in a solid airboot at 1 week. I got an ultrasound scan at 2 weeks and am now waiting to see the consultant again. At all stages I have had to chase up the department to get appointments but found the consultant's secretary to be helpful. The fracture clinic was extremely busy when I had my appointment and one gets the impression that it's not the most efficient place to be but they are so overcrowded with patients.

    I am hopefully going the non surgical route but like you say, if I had to have surgery then it seems like it could be 3 to 5 weeks of wasted time. I dont know, but I would suspect that most people on the nhs would have to wait at least 2 to 3 weeks to get surgery because there just arent enough surgeons or operating theatres  available. Like someone has already said, the consultant may be waiting to see if the ankle is/can heal without surgery. Depending on your age and competitiveness determines whether to go surgery or non surgery. I'm lead to believe from the many hours of googling that the non surgery route is being used more now and with early weight bearing the re rupturing rate is the same as surgery, without the possible complications of surgery like infections and bad healing of the incisions. Surgery does give a quicker route to early recuperation but at the one year point one is at the same level of repair.

    Any way good luck and I agree with what you say, as it's the same carry-on at my hospital in Yorkshire.

    • wantoosoon breeze61

      Thanks, breeze61. It sounds like your treatment has been really bad! Putting you in a bandage... Wow! Interesting too that you got a boot and I've had two backslab casts. One of the guys who did my cast said that there was a consultant at the hospital who still insists on a full leg cast, with knee bent at 90 degrees, for all Achilles ruptures. I'm glad he wasn't there the day I came in! There seems to be a great deal of variation in treatment, with some getting early physio and others getting none until a couple of months have passed.

      I'll keep pushing for surgery, but if they can't do it soon it doesn't seem worthwhile. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there about the benefits and drawbacks of surgery vs conservative treatment. My consultant just said that surgery might be better for me and left the decision in my hands.

      Good luck and I hope you get the treatment you need from now on!

    • breeze61 wantoosoon

      Hi, I saw the consultant today and he said the the ends were starting to heal together so could continue with no op route. I'm to keep wearing the boot with 4 wedges until mid june when I can remove a wedge and then another one at 3 weeks from now and then see him at 4 weeks from now but doesn't want me to do any physio.

      It's a long haul but glad that it is healing itself. so happy to go along as he says. But I will be walking with the crutches and partial weight bearing with caution just  to keep active and the blood flowing.

      Hope you get sorted soon.

      You dont mention your age and how sporty you are but as Im nearly 70 I felt the non op was better for me especially as Ive had two ops with general anesthetic in the last 6 monthss and having my galllbadder out in about 2 months time, so didn't want another lot of anesthetic.

    • breeze61

      ps. It seems that you need to get an ultrasound Asap so you know what type of treatment you need. If it's healing ok and your consultant is ok with going non op then it might be an option , because you might be 4 weeks since the accident.

    • wantoosoon breeze61

      I've just found out my surgery date. It'll be exactly four weeks after I had the injury. As you say, they might well find that my tendon has partially healed - it's hard to tell in a cast, but I think I can flex and dorsiflex my foot a little. Let's see what they say!

      BTW, I'm 38 and pretty sporty, which is how I got into this mess in the first place!

    • breeze61 wantoosoon

      I left my handbrake off my car and saw the car rolling so started to sprint, at my age, and one hell of an explosion in my ankle. In your case maybe stick to jogging, swimming and cycling., it never did me any harm.

      You could get someone to do the thompson test to see if the toes move when someone squeezes your calf, google it if you havent heard about it. You don't have much time before your surgery so I don't envey you having to make a decision.

      Good luck in what you may decide and I can imagine you doing lots of googling. Utube have some recent stories of different types of treatment.

      Keep in touch, it will be useful to see how we progress, my accident was 21 May so possible about a week after your.

      I was walking in the garden today burning some paper and my foot got snagged in the path edging and felt a pull on the tendon, the boot prevented a possible re -rupture but one needs to be so careful in the early weeks. I've been full weight bearing in the house for short distances but use my two crutches outside and am about 25 to 50% weight bearing but I dont fully follow through with the injured foot as I dont think even the boot would stop excess pulling on the tendon.


    • breeze61 wantoosoon

      Hi  Wanttoosoon,

      Just wondered how you are getting on and what decision you made. I'm in my 4th week and only til monday to wait before I take the first heel wedge out. Am walking about at about 50% weight bearing  on two crutches and can slowly pull my foot gentle down so good to see some tendon movement.

  • lur06029 wantoosoon

    I say go for the surgery, i had one doctor I saw for a whole year my foot was swollen black/blue swollen and awful looking finally I got an MRI my doctor said it showed nothing and then he moved so he gave my case to specialist, the specialist said it was rare and unusual for someone my age I was (16) at the time. I’m now 20 still having the same problem, and we have no idea what’s going on. Since I had a reconstructive surgery to fix my problem, my heel bone was also fixed. The specialist said since it took them so long to find the problem and took them so long to book the surgery that it all couldve been avoided by doing the surgery sooner. I say go for it and find a doctor who knows what to do. 

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