Jeremy Hunt ‘must act now’ to tackle health crisis

MPs and Peers are calling on Jeremy Hunt to commit cash in his Autumn Statement this week to improve diagnosis and treatment of the debilitating brittle bone disease.

Some 250 Parliamentarians are backing the Sunday Express Better Bones campaign, run in association with the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

We want £30million extra funding each year for specialist bone clinics to diagnose and treat the condition, with all over-50s given access to these Fracture Liaison Services.

A bone fracture tsar must be appointed in each of the nations to oversee care for this easily preventable and treatable disease, which causes disability and even death.

Osteoporosis impacts one in two women and one in five men over 50. A postcode lottery for FLS in the UK sees some areas not served by one, and others poorly resourced. Our campaign has won the backing of seven royal medical colleges, leading medical unions, medics, top charities and business leaders.

READ MORE: ‘I’m a GP with osteoporosis – this is how I improved my symptoms’

Lord Black, whose mother suffered with the disease, said: “The Government can’t afford to lose its nerve now. This is a golden opportunity to show how committed ministers are to helping people live well in older age, while supporting older workers with osteoporosis who want desperately to stay in their jobs.”

Former health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Fractures are the second greatest filler of hospital beds. The case for Fracture Liaison Services has been fully, publicly and comprehensively made, and I hope the Government listens to this good sense in the Autumn Statement.”

Conservative MP for Ashford, Damian Green, said: “This is a prime example of where the NHS is paying eye-watering sums to fix problems that should never have been allowed to escalate to crisis point. In 55 developed countries around the world, Fracture Liaison Services are a basic standard of care. It’s way beyond time our NHS catches up.”

ROS figures show that our proposed measures would save the NHS £665million over five years and free up 750,000 hospital bed days.

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A report commissioned by the charity found 81,000 people of working age suffer fractures every year because of osteoporosis.

Around 27,000 of these aged 50 to 65 are forced to leave work as a result. And 1.9 million days off are taken each year due to fractures.

Baroness Donaghy said: “The Sunday Express has been running a Better Bones campaign which has attracted widespread support and this needs some strong visible leadership from the Government.”

Lord Lexden added: “We should be deeply troubled by the extent to which osteoporosis goes undiagnosed. It is estimated that some 2.6 million women and men endure the effects of undiagnosed spinal fractures.

“Both business leaders and trade unions are firmly behind this year’s hugely informative Better Bones campaign in its call for universal fracture liaison services.”

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In September, Department of Health and Social Care Minister, Lord Evans, said: “We are proposing to announce, in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, a package of measures to expand the provision of Fracture Liaison Services and improve their current quality.”

This honours a commitment from Minister Maria Caulfield in the Sunday Express in August to make an announcement on how to extend FLS by the end of the year. Craig Jones, CEO of the ROS, said: “Provided the Government keeps its promise to act in the Autumn Statement, this is one of the most fixable problems in the NHS. The most expensive, wasteful option is to bury our heads and let these costs spiral.”

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