Postcode Lottery Damaging Elderly Hip Care Patients

Better collaboration is needed between the NHS and social services to help elderly hip care patients overcome an "unacceptable postcode lottery", a pressure group has said.

The National Hip Fracture Database (NHFD), composed of the British Geriatrics Society and the British Orthopaedic Association, made the claim after analysing patients' treatment across 180 hospitals in England and Wales.

There are more than 75,000 hip fractures every year in the UK

The NHFD also said its research "provided disturbing data on 'superspell' (the overall length of NHS stay)" ranging from 12.4 to 44.5 days - a more than three-fold variation.

"This has serious implications for NHS costs and serious implications for patients too," the group said.

"However, only better collaboration between the NHS and the social services can ensure real and sustained improvement, with more frail patients getting home sooner and safely, and many avoiding unnecessary care home admission."

Hip fracture usually results from the combination of weak bone structure (osteoporosis) and a fall.

More than 75,000 cases occur each year in the UK.

Many patients are frail and have other health problems.

The NHFD makes the claims in a supplement to its 2012 National Report published on Tuesday.

The group said there were some improvements in data analysis from 27 hospitals, including mortality rates falling 12% in four years.

Natalie Beswetherick, director of practice and development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: " Immediate post-surgery rehabilitation enables elderly people to return to the level of function they had before their fall and get home as soon as possible.

"The continued improvement in hospital care highlighted in this report is very welcome.

"However, that good work must not be undone by a lack of community rehabilitation.

"Too many elderly people are being left in hospital longer than they need to be because no therapy support is in place to help them be discharged and remain independent at home.

"This is grossly unfair for these elderly people and damaging for their rehabilitation.

"It is also very expensive for the NHS and uses resources that would be better spent supplying the very services that would allow the patients to be discharged.

"Commissioners must look at the entire pathway to ensure patients get the care they need to return to their normal lives."

Dr Kevin Stewart, a c linical director from the Royal College of Physicians, said he welcomed the report's supplement.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We have seen how the NHS has improved the quality of care it gives to patients with hip fractures, whilst reducing expensive delays and complications.

"The NHS is rising to the challenge of creating new and innovative ways of working and this will help improve quality and treatment for patients, as well as reducing patient stay in hospital."