End this ‘postcode lottery’ in fracture prevention

End this ‘postcode lottery’ in fracture prevention

We believe that everyone over 50 who suffers a broken bone should be assessed for osteoporosis.

An estimated three million people in the UK have osteoporosis and a recent member survey revealed that a fifth of women who have fractured sustain three or more breaks before being diagnosed.

That must change – if osteoporosis is left undiagnosed it goes untreated, the condition worsens and the risk of fracture increases.

Sadly, one in ten people who fracture their hip will die within a month. This is why we are setting out our ambition to increase the number of Fracture Liaison Services across the UK.

A Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) is a dedicated clinical service where specialist nurses work with the hospital and GPs to identify people at risk of osteoporosis, invite them for an assessment and refer them for help where necessary.

FLSs are a proven way of preventing people from future breaks as a result of osteoporosis – the first FLS in Glasgow reported a 7.3% decrease in hip fractures in the decade following its introduction, compared with a 17% increase in the same duration in England.

But despite proof of the effectiveness of the service, recent figures we have collected show there is only 44% coverage of FLSs across the UK.

Most importantly, FLSs can have a huge impact on the quality of life for people with osteoporosis; they play a crucial role in identifying the condition and reducing the pain and suffering caused by osteoporosis by identifying people earlier and preventing future breaks.

We want people with osteoporosis to be identified after one break and receive the treatment and care they need. In order to do that, the provision of Fracture Liaison Services needs to increase drastically.

If every individual over 50 who breaks a bone is identified and treated by an FLS, 22,250 hip fractures a year could be prevented.

This month we launched a new FLS in Portsmouth in partnership with the Queen Alexandra Hospital, which will act as a benchmark for our new national FLS delivery programme and we will be focusing our efforts on increasing the number of FLSs across the country.

In the meantime, as we help build FLS provision in the UK, we are raising awareness of osteoporosis and the risk of fragility fractures with our Stop at One campaign. Find out about your risk by visiting www.stopatone.org.uk or you can call our helpline on 0845 450 0230.

By Claire Severgnini, Chief Executive of the National Osteoporosis Society