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Print falls question on prescriptions to prevent fractures, say experts

Pharmacists should collate information on elderly patients' recent falls and report the results to GPs under new recommendations to health ministers on preventing fractures.

The report from charity Age UK and the National Osteoporosis Society says where pharmacists undertake medicines usage reviews they should ask older patients if they have fallen recently. The question should be printed onto on repeat prescriptions and the results reported back to GPs.

The report says that in England, between 1998/99 and 2008/09, the number of men admitted to hospital for a hip fracture increased by 77% while  the overall rise for both men and women was 17%.

It warns that based on current trends, there could be as many as 140,000 hospital admissions for hip fracture a year in the UK by 2036 - an increase of 57% on 2008 admissions with the cost of treating and caring for hip fractures in the UK topping £6billion by 2036.

The report, ‘Breaking Through: Building Better Falls and Fractures Services in England' recommends:

* GPs and hospitals should work together with local authorities to put in place better care programmes for older people who suffer from falls and fractures

* Local health leads should run health campaigns on how people can look after their bone health and prevent falls themselves

* Local health leads should offer financial incentives to improve care

* A national database should be set up to monitor non-hip fractures

Care services minister Paul Burstow said: ‘A fall or a fracture can turn a person's life upside down. Action to prevent trips and falls is critical to turning the rising tide of hospital admissions and costs.'

'Both prevention and treatment are at their most effective when social care and the NHS work together. Integrated care can go a long way to improve services for older people.'

‘The Government is putting in place the legal conditions and financial incentives to drive greater integration.'

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