Brittle bone patients fight to save service

York Press: Dr Michael Harkness Dr Michael Harkness

OSTEOPOROSIS campaigners are calling for renewed funding for a York hospital service which helps patients avoid costly and painful fractures.

A pilot Fracture Liaison Service ran for two years at York Hospital but came to an end earlier this year.

The National Osteoporosis Society says such services are run by a dedicated co-ordinator – usually a nurse specialist, supported by a lead clinician with experience in the assessment and management of osteoporosis – and play an important role in diagnosing fragility fractures and osteoporosis.

They give patients with this type of fracture access to various assessments, including a scan to assess future fracture risk, a falls risk assessment and osteoporosis treatments.

York clinician Dr Michael Harkness and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy recently attended a round-table meeting in Westminster of the All-Party Parliamentary Osteoporosis Group, at which the problems in commissioning such services across the country had been discussed.

A spokesman said that despite its success, the service was not currently commissioned in York and decisions were awaited over the future of its funding.

The spokesman said the York pilot ran from February 2011 to February 2013, but unfortunately, its funding was not continued.

“One key factor was that the post holder at the hospital, who had really championed the service, left just as the future of the service was being considered,” he said.

“In 2008, an audit found that, of people with low trauma fractures, only 14 per cent of respondents had been assessed or treated for their risk of further fractures.

“Of the 893 people identified with fragility fractures between February and December 2011, the service invited 98.5 per cent for assessment of secondary fracture risk, either directly or through their GP.”

A spokesman for NHS North Yorkshire and Humber Commissioning Support Unit said the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, which funded the pilot scheme, was currently working on its five-year strategic plan and was not in a position to confirm the situation over renewed funding for a fracture service at the moment.

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