The risk of breaking a bone is 50 per cent higher in Londonderry than in London and fracture specialists at the Western Trust saw 600 patients who suffered breaks last year alone.
Specialists at the Altnagelvin Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) revealed the disparity during a presentation to local MP Mark Durkan.
According to Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services for the Western Trust, and Dr David Armstrong, Consultant Rheumatologist, recent research from the University of Southampton, funded by the National Osteoporosis Society, illustrated the risk of breaking a bone is 50 per cent higher in Northern Ireland than London.
Researchers examined data from 11.3 million people, provided by GP surgeries across the UK – citing deprivation, rural life and a high prevalence of manual work as key factors behind high fracture rates.
Mr Durkan said: “I was keen to see the work of the FLS team in the Western Trust, especially given that a new study has shown that people in Northern Ireland are the most likely in the UK to suffer a broken bone. Whatever the reasons, it is imperative that the top quality Fracture Liaison Services in the Western Trust and across the North are fully resourced and prevent future painful and debilitating fractures.
“This is all the more important when it has been calculated by the National Osteoporosis Society that preventing fractures in this way could save in excess of £10million which could be put back into healthcare.”
Ms McKay said: “With an ageing population it is vital that we raise awareness about issues such as bone health and osteoporosis.
“Fracture Liaison Services are a proven, cost effective way of reducing the impact of osteoporosis and fractures through identifying people with fractures caused by low trauma injuries. Our service brings great benefits to the local population whilst reducing the pressures on the hospital.”
Dr Armstrong said: “Fracture Liaison Services are all about prevention being better than cure - something which makes sense for patients, doctors and the NHS in general.
“There is a huge amount of work to be done with limited resources, and having top quality Fracture Liaison Services is key to this. For this reason Fracture Liaison Services across NI are meeting with the Health Board at present in an attempt to streamline processes and develop pathways so that everyone gets the best care possible, and gets to see the right person at the right time.”
For further info on osteoporosis visit www.nos.org.uk