By: 14 June 2019
Healthcare commissioners urged to implement services that prevent broken bones

More than 50,000 life-altering broken bones could be avoided if preventative services were made available more widely, according to a new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

The Fracture Liaison Service Database: Commissioner’s report 2019 shows that there are significantly fewer fracture liaison services (FLSs) available for patients in some parts of England and Wales than others, with 54,000 preventable life-altering fractures estimated to occur over the course of the next five years as a result.

The RCP has written to NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) calling for them to take action to ensure FLSs are available in their local areas.

An FLS is an NHS service providing effective preventative care for patients who sustain a ‘fragility fracture’ – a fall from a standing height or less that results in a broken bone, such as a hip fracture. FLSs investigate and treat patients to reduce the risk of future broken bones.

For a typical given CCG population, providing these services costs around £640,000 over five years but saves the local NHS and social care services £2.1 million – a net benefit of £1.46 million.

Dr Kassim Javaid, Consultant Rheumatologist at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and RCP clinical lead for the Fracture Liaison Service Database, said: “Those suffering broken bones are often the most vulnerable in society and it is unacceptable that such variation exists in service accessibility depending on where in the country they live. Fracture liaison services are proven to reduce the risk of experiencing further fractures, reducing the impact on older patients, and save the NHS millions of pounds. I implore all CCGs to ensure that FLSs are commissioned in their areas so that millions of older people receive the care they deserve.”

Will Carr, Head of Service Delivery at the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said: “We hear daily from people whose lives have been changed completely by broken bones caused by osteoporosis. In England and Wales, more than 66,000 people suffer hip fractures each year. Of the 70 per cent of people who survive at least one year after their hip fracture, half of these use walking aids and 20 per cent move into a care home.

“FLSs offer a solution. They can help to prevent these life-changing broken bones and make a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality for older people. FLSs also offer clinical commissioning groups a proven service model, recommended by the Department of Health, to reduce the number and cost of unplanned admissions related to fragility fractures – saving local NHS and social care services millions of pounds.”

Source: Royal Osteoporosis Society