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NHS failing over elderly

25th March 2009

Experts say that opportunities to prevent recurrent falls and fractures in the elderly are being missed.

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While more than 700,000 people over 65 attend A&E after a fall, the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership says many hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not following to best practice.

Researchers from the Royal College of Physicians conducted the audit but found there had been little improvement since it carried out its first audit in 2005.

It surveyed acute trusts, primary care organisations and health and social care trusts but discovered serious gaps remains in aftercare services.

Only half the providers with an A&E unit routinely screened older people at risk or conducted eye checks or heart conditions to see if this was a factor and less than half checked for osteoporosis.

"Major variation between trusts persist, and deficiencies in care remain widespread," said the report.

HQIP chief executive Robin Burgess said: "This audit really highlights the need to address the shortfalls in aftercare services being offered to patients who have fallen and fractured bones."

The National Osteoporosis Society expressed the view that if the NHS correctly identified those at risk, trusts could save "time, money and most importantly, lives."

Primary Care Trust Network director David Stout said it was important for all primary care trusts to have the necessary services for falls and bone health in place. While some are progressing well, he said others could improve.

The Department of Health said several regional pilot projects were already in place and contributing to best practice in prevention.

 

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