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DH pushes to cut admissions for falls

Report calls for better measures to lower incidence of falls and fractures

Louise Prime

Friday, 24 February 2012

More must be done to reduce the number of admissions for falls and fractures to prevent a huge increase in costs to the NHS, the Government has insisted.

A report from Age UK and the National Osteoporosis Society says GPs should work with their local authorities and hospitals to improve secondary prevention. It warns that admissions from falls and fractures could rise sharply – from the current 89,000 a year in the UK, already among the EU’s highest – to 140,000 unless preventive care becomes more integrated and effective.

Breaking through: building better falls and fracture services in England, commissioned by care services minister Paul Burstow, also says that unless significant improvements are made, hip fractures alone will cost the NHS and local authorities across the UK £6billion a year by 2036.

The NOS says that far too many people are not identified as being at risk despite breaking bones or having common risk factors that, it points out, should have raised the alarm for health professionals. Of 700 people with osteoporosis surveyed by the charity, 70% said that osteoporosis was not discussed by their health professional after they broke a bone; 8% had to raise the subject before it was discussed; 26% were only diagnosed after suffering multiple fractures; 35% had to wait more than a year after breaking a bone before being diagnosed – and 22% waited more than 5 years.

The report recommends several ways in which the NHS can reduce the number of falls and fractures:

  • GPs and hospitals must work together with local authorities to put in place better care programmes for older people who suffer from falls and fractures
  • local health leads should run health campaigns on how people can look after their bone health and prevent falls themselves
  • local health leads should offer financial incentives to improve care
  • a national database should be set up to monitor non-hip fractures.

Paul Burstow said: “Both prevention and treatment are at their most effective when social care and the NHS work together. Integrated care can go a long way to improve services for older people. The Coalition Government is putting in place the legal conditions and financial incentives to drive greater integration.”

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: “It is extremely worrying that in many areas of the country, people are not receiving all the care, treatment and support they need to help them back to recovery and prevent further falls from happening in the future ...

“We know that by investing in specialist services that help older people to avoid falling and breaking bones we can save the health service money.”

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