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QOF freeze will harm care for osteoporosis

The breakdown in talks between the BMA and the Government will seriously undermine patient care for about three million older people who are at risk of fracture and osteoporosis.

The BMA's proposals for the GP contract included new clinical indicators as part of the QOF for osteoporosis, heart failure and peripheral arterial disease. Existing indicators for chronic kidney disease were also to be enhanced.

The introduction of new clinical indicators for osteoporosis would have represented probably the most significant improvement in patient care for the elderly in recent years. About three million older people suffer from or are at risk of osteoporosis in the UK, and around one in two women and one in five men over 50 will suffer from a fracture.

It is a national tragedy that at least 50% of hip fracture patients have suffered a previous fracture, but only a tiny percentage of these would have been diagnosed with osteoporosis after their first fracture. National guidance states that patients suffering a fracture should be screened for osteoporosis by a bone density scan and offered appropriate treatment to prevent further fractures.

Including these new clinical indicators for osteoporosis in the QOF would have transformed the way fracture care is delivered to patients. Now it appears these indicators will be ditched. This will seriously undermine improved care services for older people.

From Dr Alun Cooper, GPSI in osteoporosis in Crawley, West Sussex, and chair of the National Osteoporosis Society's primary care forum

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