End the postcode lottery of Osteoporosis detection, pleads MP

Ending the “postcode lottery” that allows osteoporosis to go undetected would be a huge boost to the economy, says a senior MP.

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is backing the Sunday Express Better Bones campaign.

In collaboration with the Royal Osteoporosis Society, the campaign aims to improve the quality and coverage of specialist fracture centres known as Fracture Liaison Services.

Mr Farron – vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diagnostics – said: “The main thing is to ensure everyone can lead a healthy life but there is also a huge economic impact because people are unable to work.”

Some 3.5 million people in the UK suffer with osteoporosis but most are undiagnosed, putting them at risk of bone fractures. The degenerative condition forces many to stop working. Earlier diagnosis of the brittle bone disease would prevent disability and death by getting people treatment before it is too late.

The campaign calls for £30million of extra funding each year for FLS and for all over-50s to have access to dedicated bone specialists. A Fracture Tsar in each of the nations to oversee better osteoporosis care.

READ MORE: Focus on Osteoporosis: Our battle supported by doctors and nurses

The measures would save 8,000 lives over five years and cut NHS spending by £665million.

Mr Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Cumbria, said: “This is a really important campaign. It’s not just about under-funding. It’s about decisions to commission, or not to commission, something that would really make a difference for hundreds if not thousands of people in my constituency alone.

“You have people who are missing out on the anti-osteoporosis medication they could be getting.

“The chances of people being hospitalised or immobilised because of breaks as a consequence of this postcode lottery are huge.”

The campaign is also backed by Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle, Merseyside, and co-chair of the Parliamentary Group on Health.

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He said: “There is no overall national strategy for fracture services. It’s a conundrum because we want local health services to commission services that meet the needs of their population, but given the impact fractures can have…there’s an argument to say we need a national, comprehensive approach.”

Some 240 MPs and Peers back the campaign and more than 800 signed a letter to the Government demanding changes. Leading charities including Parkinson’s UK and Coeliac UK have also come out in support as have doctors union the BMA and seven Royal Colleges.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “NHS England is working with local health systems to support the mobilisation and implementation of Fracture Liaison Services in each area and to establish more clinics. Our major conditions strategy will set out a clear vision for the management and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoporosis.”

The solution

  • Give all over-50s access to dedicated bone specialists

  • £30million extra investment into services for England, Wales and Scotland

  • A Fracture Tsar appointed in each of Britain’s nations

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