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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 12:23 GMT
NHS not geared for osteoporosis
X-rays showing bones
Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fractures
Much of the NHS in England is not ready to tackle osteoporosis and falls among older people, a survey has revealed.

The study, by MPs, found only 43% of primary care trusts expect to implement national guidelines by next April's deadline.

Health Secretary John Reid has given an assurance that the NHS is on track to meet standards set out in the National Service Framework for Older People.

The research was carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Osteoporosis Group.

Until the NHS starts to act, people with osteoporosis will continue to break their bones needlessly.
Angela Jordan
People with osteoporosis face a much greater risk of suffering fractures if they fall, leading to disability and loss of independence.

It is estimated that 3m people in the UK suffer from osteoporosis - and the disease accounts for more than 300,000 fractures each year.

But good treatment and monitoring of patients can reduce the chances of falls and improve quality of life.

No priority

One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture of the hip, wrist or spine.
It is estimated that only a small proportion of patients receive preventive advice and treatment for their condition.
Over 1.7 billion is spent mending osteoporotic fractures across the UK each year.
However, the report says there is a worrying lack of priority - and even a lack of understanding - among healthcare providers about what the new guidelines entail.

It says primary care trusts (PCTs) have made progress with initiatives to prevent falls - but not in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.

It says both elements need to be integrated to come up with a truly effective approach.

John Austin MP, co-chair of the parliamentary group, said: "While there are some examples of good practice, our survey shows that the situation is patchy and despite the government's commitment, we are very disappointed that the NHS does not appear to be on target.

"However, if there is an increased focus and sustained effort from the government and the NHS to establish these services we are confident that the standard can be achieved.

Angela Jordan, of the National Osteoporosis Society, said: "The NSF for Older People provides the only piece of health policy for people with, or at risk of, osteoporosis.

"The standards set out in the policy are compulsory and yet the NHS does not look set to meet them.

"The NOS is greatly concerned that until the NHS starts to act, people with osteoporosis will continue to break their bones needlessly."

Government response

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Osteoporosis represents a significant risk to the health and independence of older people.

"That is why the NSF for Older People requires all local health and social care systems to have in place by April 2005 an integrated falls service, involving health, social care and other key stakeholder organisations.

"The Department of Health is working with local health authorities to ensure that all localities meet this milestone."

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is reviewing the evidence on screening and treatment for osteoporosis and are consulting on provisional recommendations.

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