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Falls programmes ‘do not follow guidelines’

GPs are referring patients to falls prevention programmes that are not evidence-based, a new analysis claims.

The report by the Royal College of Physicians found although the programmes were popular among patients, they did not meet guidelines set by the British Geriatric Society.

The BGS guidelines state exercise programmes to prevent falls must be three times a week for more than 15 weeks, progressive and include targeted resistance training.

The RCP found 81% of patients reported short duration exercise programmes, of fewer than 12 weeks, and 86% of staff questioned said their exercise classes ran only once a week.

Just over half of patients reported their exercise programme to be progressive, and only 29% said their programme included the use of ankle weights. Three-quarters of staff reported using some resistance training with most or all patients.

The report concluded: 'The implementation of evidence-based exercise interventions by healthcare providers is incomplete and varies widely across participating sites.'

Dr Helen Hosker, a GPSI in old age medicine in Manchester, said she was doubtful the programmes would be improved after the Government's health reforms: ‘I worry that it won't be seen as a core service to commission for local authorities who have a lot of competition for their budget'.