Mobile bone scanner wins national award for bringing life-changing osteoporosis services to rural communities

13 Mar 2018

A mobile bone scanner commissioned by the charity has been recognised by a leading patient advocacy group, with a special award for bringing services closer to peoples’ homes.

The ‘Healthy Bones Mobile Unit’ - a bone density scanner housed in a lorry - travels to deliver services to local communities in Devon and Cornwall. Funded by the National Osteoporosis Society and operated by Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the service works to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.

The pioneering service, opened by National Osteoporosis Society President Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010, has now been recognised by patient advocacy group Patient Experience Network with an award for improving access to osteoporosis services in rural areas.

The mobile bone density scanner is one of many across the country comissioned by the National Osteoporosis Society, following a £3 million donation from the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 2007.

A review of bone scanning provision at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust in 2008 showed low numbers of patients accessing services, largely due to the need to travel to the Derriford site. Poor public transport, long journeys and the size of the hospital were often cited as key reasons for patients being reluctant to travel for their scans.
Since opening in 2010, over 5500 scans have been performed at five host locations; including four community hospitals and one GP practice.

Jill Griffin, Lead Practitioner and Radiographer, was appointed to develop and roll out the mobile service. Reflecting on the success of the mobile unit, Jill said:

“We are so proud of our service. It covers an area of 2500 square miles, representing the 25% of our population who have poorer transport links to Derriford hospital.”

“Not only does the mobile unit improve access to assessment and treatment of osteoporosis and therefore reduce the number of preventable fractures - it also reduces travel time for patients, reduces their anxiety and lessens the environmental impact of patients’ journeys into Plymouth.”

“Even during the very cold and snowy weather we had recently in South Devon, the mobile clinic allowed us to see patients on the unit who would never have travelled in hazardous conditions to have their scan.”

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