GPs urged to tackle the high cost of fractures on the NHS

GP commissioners must improve access to specialist osteoporosis clinics to tackle the growing burden of fractures on the NHS, a GPSI has warned.

There are more than 300,000 fragility fractures a year in the UK, and hip fractures alone cost £2 billion (Photograph: SPL)
There are more than 300,000 fragility fractures a year in the UK, and hip fractures alone cost £2 billion (Photograph: SPL)

Just 24 per cent of NHS trusts have established fracture liaison services, the gold standard in osteoporosis care, according to West Sussex GPSI Dr Alun Cooper. This leaves many patients liable to suffer repeat fractures.

Breaking Point, a joint report by leading academics, shows the number and cost of fractures in women over 55 has risen 13 per cent in the past five years. The cost of hip fractures alone is £2 billion per year and rising.

Dr Cooper, who co-authored the report, said GPs could reverse this trend. 'This is an opportunity for GP commissioning,' he said. 'GPs are ideally placed to see those who have just fractured. If a patient has a fracture, they have double the risk of doing so again.'

There are more than 300,000 fragility fractures in the UK each year and hip fracture rates are the highest in the EU.

A Royal College of Physicians' review in 2009 found just 23 per cent of NHS trusts have a written local commissioning strategy for bone health.

The Breaking Point report says reducing the osteoporosis-related care bill could save a substantial part of the NHS's £20 billion efficiency target.

A recent survey found most GPs only assess fracture patients when prompted by orthopaedic surgeons. In turn, surgeons will often discharge hospitalised fracture patients without investigation.

This means many patients are undiagnosed and the chance to prevent further fractures is missed, the report argues.

Dr Cooper hopes that new QOF indicators will break this vicious cycle. NICE is piloting indicators to create a register of fractures and co-prescribing of calcium and vitamin D supplements. Preliminary results are due later this year.

He said: 'The importance of QOF is not just that points win prizes, but in highlighting the importance of disease areas.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK have led the largest-ever NHS vaccination programme in response...

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Hand PCNs control of primary care infrastructure funding, says RCGP

CCG funding for primary care infrastructure should be handed to PCNs when the bodies...

Professor Martin Marshall and Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Talking General Practice speaks to RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

In-house review not enough to stop 'unjust' GMC referrals, warns BMA

Doctors' leaders have repeated calls for a full independent review of the GMC referral...


How widespread is long COVID in the UK?

Millions of people in the UK are living with long COVID. GPonline looks at the data...

COVID-19 vaccination sign

GP contract for autumn COVID-19 booster campaign due shortly

GP practices in England will be invited shortly to sign up for the COVID-19 autumn...