Falls and fractures costing northern regions £85m a year

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A new report has highlighted the significant cost of emergency admissions for falls and fractures among older people in Cumbria and the North East.

The report has revealed that in 2014/15 there were 12,654 emergency admissions for falls in the North East and North Cumbria, costing an estimated £85m to the region’s NHS.

The figures, released by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), as part of Falls Prevention Awareness week, which starts from tomorrow.

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The AHSN NENC aims to raise awareness that falls are not a normal part of ageing, or something that ‘just happens’ as you get older; and that they are preventable.

Currently on the UK mobility market there are a number of providers which specialise in pendants and other alarm systems to help reduce the impact of falls. Specialist footwear and other aids are also being developed to prevent falls in elderly people.

Falls and fractures are a common and a serious health issue faced by older people in the UK that can cause pain, loss of confidence, loss of independence and admission to institutional care and mortality.

Every year, there are around 255,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions in England among patients aged 65 and older. Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3bn a year and the annual total cost of fragility fractures to the UK has been estimated at £4.4bn.

The report also found that around a third of all people aged 65 and over fall each year and amongst older people living in the community, 5% of those who fall in a given year will suffer from fractures and hospitalisation.

“While our region’s hospitals perform better than the England average when it comes to quality of care received after a fall, within the North East and North Cumbria, the number of older people who fall is significantly higher – as are the subsequent costs to our NHS,” commented Professor Julia Newton, AHSN NENC medical director and Professor of ageing and medicine at Newcastle University.”

“This therefore highlights the importance of prevention and to support Falls Prevention Awareness Week we have created a poster and video resource and a dedicated webpage to provide older people and their families with practical tips to avoid falls. The video has been sent out to over 2000 GP Practices, Federations, Hospital Trusts and Local Authorities in the region to show in all waiting areas.

“There are lots of things older people can do to reduce their risk of suffering a fall, including replacing worn out shoes, clearing clutter, loose wires and rugs from around the house and seeing your optician for regular eye tests.

“By engaging with Health and Social Care professionals, the AHSN NENC’s Falls and Fractures programme seeks to embed all elements of falls prevention into practice across the region in both primary and secondary care settings.”

The AHSN NENC’s Falls and Fractures programme aims to reduce the number of recorded falls and their impacts on the North East and North Cumbria’s NHS by showcasing examples of best practice across all healthcare settings and profiling current service improvement and research initiatives across the region that can transform care pathways, reduce risk of falls and improve patient outcomes.

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