Regulator reveals 250,000 falls were reported in England’s NHS last year

An estimated 250,000 inpatients fell in hospitals in England last year, costing trusts about £2,600 per patient, a report from the NHS financial regulator says.


The report shows why falls prevention should be at the top of all of our agendas

NHS Improvement says the majority of these people, 83 per cent, were in acute hospitals; 14 per cent in mental health hospitals; and three per cent in community hospitals.

And it found that about 77 per cent of people who fell in hospitals across England were aged over 65.

NHS Improvement’s report, published on 21 July, is based on existing evidence and data. But it provides a picture of the scale of inpatient falls and indicates the benefits to the NHS if the rate of falls was reduced.

Its estimate of the cost of inpatient falls does not include the impact on the wider health and social care system, however. This is because data is limited and it is difficult to establish which ongoing care needs are directly attributable to a fall in hospital.

But it says that an estimate by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in 2015 shows that inpatient hospital falls could account for 25 per cent of the £2.3 billion total cost of falls across health and social care systems.

A multidisciplinary approach to falls

The document identifies some of the key factors in reducing the number of falls in hospital. It recommends establishing a multidisciplinary strategic falls group; ensuring all staff are aware of fall risk factors; good quality reporting data; and ensuring a multidisciplinary approach to falls that makes prevention is a shared responsibility.

Catherine Bramwell-Walsh, a falls prevention practitioner at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘The effect of a fall can be life changing and this report shows the importance of patient safety for both the patient and the NHS and why it should be at the top of all of our agendas.’

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