Our campaign for better bone health received a major boost after a minister suggested life-saving improvements to fracture services could be announced soon.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is looking at proposals to prevent thousands of broken bones and could provide funding in his Autumn Statement, Conservative minister Lord Evans of Rainow revealed.
Some 3.5 million people in the UK suffer with osteoporosis, which weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures, but only half of NHS Trusts in England provide specialist clinics which can identify the condition.
It means most people with the condition go undiagnosed, leaving them at risk of fractures that could have been avoided.
We have joined forces with the Royal Osteoporosis Society to call for all over-50s to have access to the dedicated bone specialists and for a fracture tsar to be appointed to each British nation.
The measures could save 8,000 lives over five years.
The campaign is backed by 240 MPs and members of the House of Lords, as well as 37 charities such as Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Lord Evans said: “We are proposing to announce, in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, a package of prioritised measures to expand the provision of Fracture Liaison Services and improve their current quality.
“NHS England is also setting up a fracture liaison service expert steering group to explore the expansion and improvement in quality of services for people with osteoporosis and those potentially at risk of fractures.”
Only 57 percent of the population currently lives in an area with a Fracture Liaison Service but Lord Evans promised to look at appointing a champion within the NHS to ensure they are available to everyone.
He said: “I think it is an important point to have somebody focused day in, day out, whose waking worry is to take it from 57 percent to 100 percent. I certainly will feed that one back.”
The Tory whip was speaking in a House of Lords debate where peers from all parties praised the Sunday Express campaign and urged the Government to act.
His comments were welcomed by Prof Emma Clark, a specialist in rheumatology and osteoporosis at North Bristol NHS Trust.
She said: “The positive signals from the Government have been music to the ears of clinicians who, every day, see the misery and disability caused by fractures which could have been prevented.
“We’re so pleased this campaign is being listened to and that the Minister recognised the importance of 100 percent coverage of Fracture Liaison Services.
“A breakthrough will make a world of difference to people working in the NHS and, most importantly, our patients and their families.”
Lord Shinkwin welcomed the news.
The Conservative peer said: “I spent much of my childhood in a hospital bed because of fractures caused by Brittle Bones, so I applaud the Royal Osteoporosis Society and the Sunday Express on the obvious sense of momentum this fantastic campaign is creating.
“It was so exciting to hear the minister talk about the forthcoming Autumn Statement in the recent Lords debate.
“I’m optimistic that together we can get this over the line!’
The debate was led by Conservative peer Guy Black, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on osteoporosis, who said fractures are the fourth-worst cause of premature death and disability in the UK.
He said: “It need not be that way, as osteoporosis is treatable with safe, effective therapies that are highly affordable for the NHS.”
But 90,000 people with osteoporosis go undiagnosed each year, meaning they are denied the treatment they need, he said.