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

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

No plans to impose face-to-face GP appointment targets, Hancock tells BMA

No plans to impose face-to-face GP appointment targets, Hancock tells BMA

The government has no plans to impose face-to-face appointments targets on general...

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

COVID-19 variants could force UK to revaccinate over next 2-3 years warns CMO

COVID-19 variants could force UK to revaccinate over next 2-3 years warns CMO

The UK's chief medical adviser has warned that new coronavirus variants may force...

BMA condemns 'fundamentally flawed' £20m weight management enhanced service

BMA condemns 'fundamentally flawed' £20m weight management enhanced service

The BMA has condemned a £20m weight management enhanced service as 'fundamentally...

GP contract update delivers extra PCN cash and £50m for new enhanced services

GP contract update delivers extra PCN cash and £50m for new enhanced services

An update to the GP contract agreement for 2021/22 has set out details of enhanced...

CQC rejects call for independent review to look at BAME bias in ratings

CQC rejects call for independent review to look at BAME bias in ratings

The CQC has rejected calls for an independent review of its ratings process to look...