The senseless postcode lottery facing people with osteoporosis has been laid bare by the plight of patients in two neighbouring cities in England.
While Bath in the south-west boasts world class services to diagnose and treat the devastating brittle bone disease, just an hour and 20 minutes away the situation in Salisbury has been slammed as “fatally sub-standard”.
The town has had its bone fracture services axed due to a lack of funding, so hundreds of people are undiagnosed and untreated.
The Royal Osteoporosis Society says reinstating Salisbury’s Fracture Liaison Service would prevent 317 fractures over the next five years, including 133 life-endangering hip fractures, while saving the local health and social care system £3.4millon.
In contrast, Bath has one of the strongest records for fracture prevention in the country, ensuring the identification of 91 per cent of fracture patients compared to the national target of 80 per cent.
It is just one example of the devastating bone health lottery that exists across the UK and why the Sunday Express launched the Better Bones campaign.
The campaign, in collaboration with the ROS, is calling on the Treasury to announce urgent funding in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and commit £30million each year for FLS and grant all over-50s access to these specialist bone clinics. A bone fracture tsar must be appointed in each of the nations. If left undiagnosed osteoporosis leads to recurrent bone breaks, causing disability and even death. It can be easily treated with medication.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said: “The fact that a postcode lottery, in the south-west and beyond, determines whether people can have life-saving medication shows why urgent action from the Government is needed.”
ROS CEO Craig Jones said: “In the 30 miles between Salisbury and Bath, we have one of the most vivid examples of healthcare inequalities in the country.”
Jan Westbury, a Lead volunteer advocate for the ROS, is based near Salisbury. She has osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis – and her low bone density wasn’t picked up by an FLS.
She said: “I see at our support group there are a lot of patients left adrift. You hear about lack of follow-up, people struggling to stay on the drugs they need. An FLS makes a huge difference.”
Dr Stuart Eastman, a former GP and primary care representative for the ROS clinical and scientific committee, said: “This isn’t just about Salisbury, it is about equity across England and across the UK.”
Jan and the ROS team recently met with Salisbury MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen to discuss the situation. He said: “I am scheduling a meeting with local NHS leaders to discuss their concerns.”
Research shows that our proposed package of measures mean 74,000 fractures could be prevented over five years, saving the NHS £665m. One in two women and one in five men over 50 will get osteoporosis.
A staggering 2.6 million work days are lost annually due to fractures.
Better Bones has won the
backing of 250 Parliamentarians, thousands of doctors, including seven Royal colleges of medicine, business leaders, unions, and charities.
Source: | This article first appeared on Express.co.uk