A new national falls prevention strategy is needed to help reduce falls, says the NHS Confederation in its briefing published today.
The new Briefing from the organisation’s Ambulance Service Network and Community Health Services Forum says a co-ordinated approach could cut falls by up to 30% and save the NHS millions of pounds.
Falls are one of the leading causes of mortality resulting from injury in people over 75 in the UK. One in three people over 65 and half of people over 80 will suffer a fall each year. Falls account for 10 to 25% of ambulance call outs for the over-65s.
Half of those with hip fracture never regain their former level of function and one in five die within three months.
The briefing highlights that the Department of Health itself has estimated that a falls prevention strategy could reduce the number of falls by 15 to 30 per cent.
According to the Forum, although government policies for the last 20 years have focused on prevention, health promotion and integration as the way to tackle falls, studies have shown that these policies have not been entirely successful. Many patients still experience disjointed care as falls and fracture services are not integrated and not enough is done to stop people falling again.
The Briefing makes the case for investing in rehabilitation and prevention falls services that link up organisations across health and social care. It also provides examples of where the NHS, social care and community services are already working together to set up effective falls services.
Ambulance Service Network director Jo Webber said: "Falls are not only physically debilitating but, particularly for older people, they really knock their confidence and can slow recovery.
"We have to take the opportunity of the NHS reforms to get organisations across health, social care and local authorities working together.
"Effective falls services that are already up and running across the country show that for little initial investment patients are getting better care, more falls are being prevented and money is being saved. Half the people in this country over 80 will suffer a fall this year. As our population gets older, we have to recognise that working together on falls is going to be even more of a priority.
"There are mechanisms available in the NHS reforms to make joint working possible but they will require leadership from the national to local level to really work."
Among the Forum’s recommendations is the suggestion that clinical commissioning groups should work together to deliver a range of integrated falls services across health and social care locally; that as part of local authorities' public health advice mandate, councils should provide falls prevention information and support services and that falls should play a major part of the needs assessment undertaken by commissioners.