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Online resources will help physios to launch fracture liaison services

7 May 2015 - 3:25pm

The National Osteoporosis Society has launched resources including an online training course and 10 clinical standards to help start fracture liaison services.


Ruth ten Hove said a fracture liaison service is an opportunity for physiotherapists to provide preventive advice about osteoporosis and falls

Members of the working group which developed the resources included Ruth ten Hove, the CSP’s head of practice and development.

‘Most fracture liaison services are run by nurse practitioners in secondary care, but there’s a real opportunity – and the National Osteoporosis Society supports this – to extend this to other health professions,’ Ms ten Hove said.

The online training course is intended to enable fracture prevention practitioners to deliver excellent care to people with or at risk of osteoporosis and fragility fractures.

According to the National Osteoporosis Society, it is the only course of its kind to provide the knowledge required to deliver best practice.

The 10 clinical standards address a pathway from identification of the patient through to assessment of future risk.

They include the following:

  • All patients aged 50 years and over with a new fragility fracture or a newly reported vertebral fracture will be systematically and proactively identified.
  • All patients identified will be offered written information about bone health, lifestyle, nutrition and bone-protection treatments.
  • Core clinical data from patients will be recorded on a database. Regular audit and patient experience measures will be performed.
  • The fracture liaison service should engage in a regular peer-review process of quality assurance.

Another resource is a toolkit intended to make the implementation of a fracture liaison service as easy as possible. The toolkit includes advice on setting up a service, being accredited, plus measuring and improving a service.

‘All the resources are useful because they can help to make a strong case locally for fracture liaison services and they also take you through all the steps you need to develop a service,’ Ms ten Hove said.

‘There’s a very useful tool that will calculate the fracture rates in your area. For physios it’s a way of gathering evidence for a service.’

The National Osteoporosis Society has found that only 42 per cent of health care organisations in the UK offer any form of fracture liaison service which proactively find people over 50 who have suffered a fragility fracture, and manage and treat those at risk of further fractures.

Despite this, it believes these services can save money for the NHS as well as people’s lives by preventing fragility fractures among the over 50s.

Vicki Goodwin, research officer for Agile, the professional network for physios working with older people, said: ‘Falls and bone health are inextricably linked and we can't prevent fractures unless we address both aspects,’ she said.

‘In addition, the role of exercise in maintaining bone health is an important role for physiotherapists, and this is clear throughout the standards.’

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