Health experts today called for better care in the NHS to deal with a potential “epidemic” of hip fractures in the coming decades.
In new guidance published today, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said surgery should take place the same day or the day after hospital admission. Some patients currently wait several days.
Hospitals should also have a co-ordinated “hip fracture programme” to help patients recover faster.
Treating hip fractures costs UK medical and social care an estimated £2bn every year.
Nice says implementing the changes in the guideline would cost little and would actually save money in the long term, while leading to a better quality of life for the patient.
Around 70,000-75,000 hip fractures occur each year in the UK, and this number is expected to rise to 100,000 by 2020 because of the ageing population.
Professor Cameron Swift, emeritus professor of healthcare of the elderly at King’s College London and chairman of NICE’s guideline development group, told reporters: “We have got, with hip fracture, a healthcare challenge over the coming decades of potentially epidemic proportions.
“So often when we talk about our growing numbers of older people we encounter a sense of gloom and despair almost that we’ve got an insoluble problem.
“We’ve found there are solutions which can be not only effective but cost-effective in addressing this particular challenge.”
The hip fracture programme involves the hospital reaching out to links in the community. A physician specialising in the needs of older people, and with a particular interest in hip fracture, works alongside colleagues in orthopaedic surgery and anaesthetics.
Professor Swift said: “From the moment the patient comes into hospital, the care is integrated and planned throughout the patient’s stay. It delivers the needs of patients in a way that is cost-effective to hospital trusts, almost contrary to expectation.
“We can reduce hospital stay in a way which is not throwing older people out early but achieving an outcome which gives them independence and quality of life.”