Falls among elderly people in Cheshire West are costing the NHS millions of pounds


Staff reporter (Chester Standard)

INJURIES caused by falls among elderly people in Cheshire West are costing local health services millions of pounds.

Latest statistics reveal there were 378 hospital admissions for hip fractures in people aged 65 and over in a year, equating to hospital costs of £2.1 million.

A report by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) also states there were 1,564 hospital admissions for fall-related injuries, which is “significantly higher than the average admission rate for England”.

The council’s people overview and scrutiny committee was expected to note the issue at a meeting last night as part of its discussions on the authority’s 2016 Public Health Annual Report.

The document outlines a number of initiatives and multi-agency schemes that have been devised to reduce people’s risk of falls and reduce the cost to the cash-strapped NHS.

Overseen by CWaC’s interim director of public health, Fiona Reynolds, the report states: “The experience of a fall or falls can permanently reduce a person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“Every year many people fall and injure themselves, sometimes severely, resulting in a hospital stay. Often, with the timely involvement of services, these falls could have been prevented, or the consequences of the fall reduced.

“Reducing the number of injuries sustained from falls in the borough is a key priority for Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, and locally, many organisations are working together to prevent falls.”

A multi-agency Cheshire West and Chester Falls Prevention Group aims to bring together individuals and groups, including those who have experienced falls, voluntary organisations, the NHS, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and the North West Ambulance Service.

The group has produced a borough-wide ‘falls prevention strategy’ to guide future work.

The fire service reportedly carries out 25,000 ‘Safe and Well’ visits in Cheshire homes every year. As well as fire safety advice, they also include advice on slips, trips and falls, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake.

Falls are estimated to cost the NHS nationally more than £2.3 billion per year.

In Cheshire West and Chester in 2014/15 – the last year for which data is publicly available – 68 per cent of fall-related admissions were for people aged over 80.

Falls in the over 80’s were more likely to result in a fractured neck of femur, accounting for 26 per cent of falls in this age group, compared to 21 per cent in those aged 65-79.

Age UK Cheshire offers advice and support on preventing falls, and can help carry out home improvements to ensure elderly people can move around safely.

Case studies provided by the council also revealed that fire service checks had led to referrals to social services and NHS professionals who provided assistance.

People can also sign up to falls prevention classes under the ‘Healthbox Strength and Balance’ programme, provided by physiotherapists.

l For more information and advice visit www.ageuk.org.uk/ cheshire/our-services/falls-prevention

See full story in the Chester Leader

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