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RCP releases guide for patients over 50 who have broken a bone

The RCP in association with National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) has released Strong bones after 50, a new guide for patients and carers to support older people who have broken a bone following a fall.  

The booklet explains what good NHS care should look like for someone who has suffered a broken ‘fragility fracture’, including care from a Fracture Liaison Service (FLS). The guide also includes: 

  • advice on what assessments and treatments to expect 
  • a ‘bone health record’, so that patients can look at their care and compare to what should happen
  • a list of questions for patients to ask their doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional after breaking a bone
  • advice on what the patient can do to help themselves

Alongside the Strong Bones After 50, the RCP has also released an RCP Fractures video to accompany the guide.

Both the leaflet and animation were produced in collaboration with a group of patients and the National Osteoporosis Society (the only UK-wide charity dedicated to ending the pain and suffering caused by osteoporosis).

Kassim Javaid, RCP clinical lead, said:

Breaking a bone is common in men and women who are 50 years and older. Breaking one bone may be the first sign of osteoporosis and, without treatment, patients could be a high risk of even more serious broken bones. We have good treatments to help patients. It is really important to work together so patients get the care and support they should be getting from the NHS to try to stop the next fall or broken bone. FLSs help patients make sure this happens. 

It is great to see this guide and video produced by patients for patients, their family and carers. By giving clear information about bone health and falls prevention, we hope that people will see how important it is to have these checks after a broken bone and have the confidence to approach their doctor and other health professional if they don’t.

Fizz Thompson, Clinical Director of the National Osteoporosis Society said: 

We welcome this new important resource in empowering patients with osteoporosis. Patients who have suffered a fragility fracture are at higher risk of breaking another bone, therefore it’s important they are seen by an FLS as soon as they can be and that everyone receives the best possible care.

The National Osteoporosis Society is working hard in partnership with the NHS to improve access to these important services and we hope that this guide leads to great awareness of what the best care after a fracture looks like.

Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Amarinder Cooner, communications adviser, RCP Care Quality Improvement Department on 020 3075 2399.

Notes for editors

  • A ‘fragility’ fracture is a fracture that occurs as result of normal activities, such as a fall from standing height or less. They are fractures of the large bones, generally vertebrae, neck of femur or wrist.
  • The Department of Health recommends that all patients who suffer a fragility fracture should have access to a local Fracture Liaison Service for assessment (DH Fracture Prevention services: an economic evaluation. London:DH, 2009) and, if required, received treatment to strengthen their bones. NICE clinical guideline 146 and NICE  TA161, TA204 
  • There are an estimated half a million broken bones after a fall or 'fragility fracture' in the UK each year, which often leads to increased risk of death, pain and loss of independence, mobility and capacity to carry out everyday tasks.

About Fracture Liaison Services

Fracture Liaison Services, commonly known as FLSs, are coordinator-based, secondary fracture prevention services. The services are commissioned to be provided by either primary or secondary care Trusts. Anyone over 50 years of age, who may have suffered a fragility fracture, should be referred to an FLS for assessment and possible treatment. One in two women and one in five men break a bone after the age of 50. Despite strong evidence supporting the treatment, in 2013 fewer than one in five patients who experienced a fragility fracture requiring therapy were on the therapy within a year (QOF achievement, prevalence and exceptions data 2012/13).

Fracture Liaison Services Database

In 2016 the RCP published the project’s first report, a review of the provision of Fragility Liaison Services. This called for better commissioning of FLSs and better access to fragility fracture prevention services for patients. In April 2017 the RCP published the first report using patient data. This called for better data quality and improvements to patient care.

The Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) plays a leading role in the delivery of high‐quality patient care by setting standards of medical practice and promoting clinical excellence. The RCP provides physicians in over 30 medical specialties with education, training and support throughout their careers. As an independent charity representing over 34,000 fellows and members worldwide, the RCP advises and works with government, patients, allied healthcare professionals and the public to improve health and healthcare.