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Poor care for broken bones is ‘risking lives’

Older people getting 'unacceptable' care


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Older people who fall and fracture bones are getting ‘inadequate’ NHS care with ‘unacceptable’ variations in treatment across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The report, issued by the Royal College of Physicians, says that around one in three patients with a broken hip had to wait more than 48 hours for surgery – a delay that puts lives at risk.

Four out of five waited more than two hours in the accident and emergency department before getting a bed on a suitable ward.

Less than a third had a medical review before surgery to assess the patient’s overall health; many did not get help to avoid future falls when they returned home and less than half were put on osteoporosis treatment.

Hip fractures

The report, carried out for the Healthcare Commission, looked at figures from 157 hospital trusts and found that most trusts are ‘nowhere near’ meeting government guidelines designed to cut the number of falls each year.

At the moment, a third of people aged over 65 will fall each year and that number is even higher in the over-75s.

Good clinical practice can reduce death and disability from hip fractures, and prevent future falls.

Basic care

Amanda Hutchinson, of the Healthcare Commission, said: ‘For older people a fall can have serious consequences for their physical and emotional wellbeing.

‘Hip fractures resulting from falls are significant injuries, and at times can even be fatal. These kinds of injuries can immobilise older people and prevent them from carrying out their normal day-to-day activities, leading them to feel isolated, frustrated and depressed.

‘But this doesn’t have to be the case. With access to well organised care, information about their injuries, and support and help to prevent future falls, older people can continue to lead active and fulfilling lives after a fall.

‘The commission is concerned that in many areas there is still a long way to go to provide basic care for these patients.’

Impatient for Change

Which? recently launched our Impatient for Change campaign with the backing of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The campaign is fighting to improve all aspects of non-clinical care for hospital in-patients in the NHS with a focus on food, hygiene and the organisation of care.

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