£20m investment in osteoporosis services
Apr 6, 2005 - 6:25:38 PM

People with suspected osteoporosis will be diagnosed more rapidly and treated more quickly thanks to a £20m investment in scanning equipment and service improvements announced by Health Minister Stephen Ladyman.

One in three women over 50 suffer from osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures and disability. DXA scanners measure bone density and are used to diagnose osteoporosis. A cash injection of £3m this year will quickly increase the NHS's capacity to provide this key diagnostic service. And a further £17m will be made available over three years to build NHS capacity to improve access and reduce waiting times.

Health Minister Stephen Ladyman said:

"Each year 14,000 people die in the UK as a result of an osteoporotic hip fracture. Osteoporosis is a devastating, debilitating condition which increases the risk of fracture when an older person falls.

"Improving access to scanning for those attending falls services is part of our pledge to have an integrated falls service in place by April 2005, which the NHS is on target to meet. We spend £1.7bn a year treating fractures caused by falling these integrated services reduce the risk of falls by half.

"We know that 400,000 older people attend A & E as a result of a fall every year. They can suffer serious injury and also lose their confidence and mobility. We are determined that older people stay active, healthy and retain their independence through exercise."

Professor Ian Philp, the National Clinical Director for Older People said:

"We are on course for delivering integrated falls services to help reduce the risk of future falls and fractures amongst the many people who present to health services with a serious fall. This additional investment will increase the capacity and responsiveness in scanning for osteoporosis amongst fallers and reduce their risk of subsequent fractures."

Terry Eccles, Chief Executive of the National Osteoporosis Society, said:

"This is excellent news because the NOS has long campaigned about the patchy access to DXA scanners in the UK. This money will ensure that areas that still need to purchase DXA scanners will now be able to do so. The challenge now for the NHS is to recruit and train staff to ensure these scanners are used full time."

The Department of Health has been working in partnership with the National Osteoporosis Society to identify areas where scanners are needed to increase diagnostic capacity.

The risk of osteoporosis can be reduced by adequate nutrition especially with calcium and vitamin D, regular weight bearing exercise, stopping smoking and avoiding alcohol.

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