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East London at rock bottom on fracture prevention

WE HAVE LONG known that people living in East London suffer from bad health – not least because of poverty and discrimination in our area. Now we have learned about another challenge we face.

The Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) has revealed that five hospitals in London do not have a fracture prevention service: and three of them are hospitals within the Barts Health NHS Trust. The guilty parties are the Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross University Hospital, and Newham Hospital.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to lose strength, which leaves them liable to break. Medication to control osteoporosis is available: the question is how the NHS finds those who are developing the condition and whether treatment can begin before treatment for a fracture reveals the condition.

The ROS has found that half of women and 20% of men over 50 will suffer a broken bone because they have some degree of osteoporosis. Those who suffer a fracture are not always assessed for osteoporosis. ROS believes that some people will suffer two or three fractures before being diagnosed.

Some hospitals run a Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) to make investigation routine for those who have broken a bone – but the situation is uneven across the country. An FLS is almost universal in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but only 57% of the population in England (72% in Wales) have easy access to this service.

The costs of a broken bone are high: there’s the pain and suffering to the victim, use of NHS facilities, and then possible time off work and depending on social services to help during recovery.  ROS estimates that if all hospitals in London had an FLS, the NHS could prevent 200 fractures a year – saving a great deal of pain and suffering and money. Craig Jones, ROS Chief Executive, has claimed that if all patients had access to an FLS, £65.7 million could be saved each year.

Judith Cummins MP chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Osteoporosis and Bone Health, which has just launched an inquiry into the causes of the postcode lottery. East Londoners will be hoping the inquiry finds out why our area is losing out – and finds a way to improve our service.

The APPG would like to hear personal stories of how people have suffered from osteoporosis and fractures. Email:

ROS invites members of the public to take a survey, which will shortly be available on their website:

●Read more about it:
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