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Elderly broken hip care needs to improve

2nd September 2010

A significant number of elderly patients who suffer broken hips are not getting surgery quickly enough.

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The annual audit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, showed that many are waiting longer than 48 hours to be operated on.

However, while there was also evidence in the National Hip Fracture Database audit that standards were improving, there was also evidence from the survey of 36,000 people over concerns about access to specialist care, the right drugs and support to prevent future falls. One in 20 patients also developed pressure sores.

With 76,000 cases every year, hip fractures from falls are one of the most common reasons for elderly people to end up in hospital, costing the NHS £1.4bn.

While the audit found that 80% of patients received surgery within the 48-hours recommended time-frame, one in five were still waiting longer with staff shortages and administrative hold-ups blamed.

Consultant geriatrician Colin Currie, who helped compile the data, said: “The human cost of hip fracture is enormous and poor quality care can result in patients enduring avoidable disability and even the loss of home and independence.”

Age UK said the audit findings were worrying and that giving people support to reduce falls or following a fall needed to be a priority for the health service.

Professor Keith Willett, the government's trauma tsar in England, said it was clear further work was needed to improve standards but he said he believed that the incentives built into the payment system should help drive up improvements in the future.

 

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