The Royal College of Physicians has uncovered a discrepancy between what NHS organisations have told the Healthcare Commission about falls prevention and what really goes on.

The national audit of falls and bone health services for older people by the Royal College of Physicians found that only 39 per cent of NHS commissioning organisations in the UK were following guidelines designed to reduce the 700,000 older people who need to attend hospital due to a fall. 


By contrast, 87 per cent of NHS organisations in England told the Healthcare Commission that they complied with these guidelines when they self reported their achievements for the 2007-08 annual health check.

The failure of most to implement National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on preventing fragility fractures meant that patients who had already experienced one fracture were not being put on treatment to reduce the risk of further injuries, the RCP found.

Serious gaps

This resulted in “serious gaps” in care. Falls and fractures in the over 65s led to over 4 million bed days in England alone and the “patchy” provision of services designed to prevent further falls and fractures is a missed opportunity, the report, which was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, said.

Jonathan Treml, associate director of the RCP’s national falls and bone health audit programme, said: “This audit demonstrates that the services provided for older people at risk of falls and fractures fall short of the services that the evidence supports, that national guidelines dictate and that older people deserve.”