Charity pledges support for new report on crucial role of Fracture Liaison Services in battle against osteoporosis

28 Apr 2017

The National Osteoporosis Society has pledged support for the launch of a new Royal College of Physicians report urgently calling for improvements to the way people over 50 who have broken a bone are assessed, treated and monitored to halt the growing osteoporosis crisis.

The new Fracture Liaison Service Database (FLS-DB) Report, FLS forward: Identifying high quality care in the NHS for secondary fracture prevention from the RCP’s Falls and Fragility Fracture Audit Programme provides the first ever benchmark against national clinical standards set by the National Osteoporosis Society.

The National Osteoporosis Society has led the way in setting the standards for care that health professionals and patients should expect from high quality Fracture Liaison Services (FLS). This new report will act as an impetus for service providers to work towards meeting these standards.

Key findings in the report have highlighted:

  • A marked variability in proportion of patients reaching recognised standards of care. More than a third (13) FLSs achieved 80-100% in 3 or more key performance areas.

  • National coverage of secondary fracture prevention using FLS is too low – there were no patient data from 120 acute trust FLS and FLS based in non-acute settings.

Responding to the report, the National Osteoporosis Society stressed that more must be done to improve the availability of services and confirmed that they will continue to invest in service development and resources to aid quality improvement. The Charity is currently working with 151 sites across the UK to increase and improve the quality of Fracture Liaison Services and has developed a host of resources designed to help new FLSs get going; work that it sees as vital to ensure that everyone gets access to the best care.

Usually based in hospitals and run by fracture nurses, Fracture Liaison Services help to systematically identify people at risk of osteoporosis and start them on a treatment to prevent unnecessary broken bones. They are a proven and cost-effective model for preventing future fractures.

There are more than half a million fragility fractures in the UK each year, including around 79,000 hip fractures, at an annual cost to the NHS of £4.3 billion. This excludes any costs to social care. With the UK’s ageing population, the number of older people suffering hip fractures is expected to increase by 65% in the next 20 years.

Through identification of those at risk and providing preventative treatment through medication and support, the risk of further fractures can be reduced by 20-70%, potentially cutting the number of further fractures by 100,000 (including 42,000 hip fractures), over five years.

National Osteoporosis Society Clinical Director Fizz Thompson welcomed the new report.

“Fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis are affecting more people and costing our overstretched health service more money every year.

The National Osteoporosis Society has long been a champion of the role Fracture Liaison Services can play in addressing this problem. This new report will do a great deal to help individual NHS trusts focus on areas that will see the greatest benefit to their patients and ensure that they provide the care and support that people with osteoporosis need.”

Alison Smith, an osteoporosis patient who has suffered fractures, said she had been lucky to have access to a Fracture Liaison Service.

“Through my experiences, I am aware of how lucky I have been to live within the ‘catchment’ of an excellent FLS and to benefit from an early diagnosis. This scenario would not have been the same in all parts of the country. I have been fortunate, but I believe passionately that this should not be ‘fortune’. All patients deserve a service such as the standard that has been provided by this health trust, which has been prepared to prioritise and provide better outcomes for its patients.”

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