Open letter to the Chancellor: Boost NHS and the economy in Autumn Statement

Dear Chancellor,

Together, we write to ask you to take action in your Autumn Statement to boost the NHS and the economy by preventing fractures caused by osteoporosis.

Half of women over 50 will suffer fractures. These injuries are the fourth most burdensome health condition measured in disability and premature death. As well as the consequences for patients, fractures place enormous burdens on health and social care services. Fractures amongst adults over 50 are the second highest driver of hospital bed occupancy. Every single year, half a million patients fracture, requiring valuable A&E, radiology and orthopaedic time, operation time, rehabilitation care and social care.

Our economy suffers too. Every year, 67,000 fractures are suffered by people of working age in England, causing between 1.6-2.1m work absence days. Painful spinal fractures, in particular, are a key driver for older employees leaving the workforce, or reducing their hours due to back pain. With an eighth of men and a tenth of women having spinal fractures by retirement age, we can’t afford to overlook such a preventable cause of worklessness.

The enormous opportunity is that fractures are preventable if we intervene early. We have safe, effective bone medications, which are highly affordable for the NHS. Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) are the world standard for catching people after the first fracture, thereby preventing life-changing hip and spinal fractures. It’s not right that 90,000 people are missing treatment because they live in the 49% of NHS Trusts without an FLS, or because their FLS has been under-resourced.

Those people don’t disappear; they present with much more complicated, challenging problems later on – injuries which spoil lives and demand intense care. Successive Conservative Health Secretaries have committed to prevention to stop problems escalating to crisis point. With a ready-made solution such as FLS – one which is already in place across 55 developed countries – we can’t afford to sit on our hands.

We hope you will use your forthcoming Autumn Statement to seize these opportunities for the labour market, public services and, most importantly, for people who are in great need.

Yours sincerely,

Craig Jones
CEO, Royal Osteoporosis Society

Caroline Abrahams
Charity Director, Age UK

Ian Bullock
CEO, Royal College of Physicians

Dr Fiona Donald
President, Royal College of Anaesthetists

Kamila Hawthorne
Chair, Royal College of GPs

Dr Adrian Boyle
President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine

Professor Nicola Ranger
Chief Nurse, Royal College of Nursing

Karin Orman
Director of Practice and Innovation, Royal College of Occupational Therapists

Justine Roberts
CEO, Mumsnet and Gransnet

Craig Beaumont
Chief of External Affairs, Federation of Small Businesses

Lydia Hamilton-Rimmer
Senior Policy Lead, Confederation of British Industry

Professor Martin Green
CEO, Care England

Simon Hodgkinson
President, British Orthopaedic Association

Dr Lynn Thomas
Medical Director, St John Ambulance

Karl Demian
CEO, The Ambulance Staff Charity

Steve Irving
CEO, Association of Ambulance CEOs

Alan Howson
Chair, Independent Ambulance Association

Ian Russell
CEO, Society for Endocrinology

Sara Moger
CEO, British Menopause Society

Dr James Frith
Chair, British Geriatrics Society

Richard Evans
CEO, Society of Radiographers

Deborah Alsina OBE
CEO, Versus Arthritis

Shantel Irwin
CEO, Arthritis Action

Clare Jacklin
CEO, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Association

Jemima Olchawski
CEO, Fawcett Society

Arash Angadji
CEO, Orthopaedic Research UK

Hilary Croft
CEO, Coeliac UK

Rowan Wathes
Associate Director, Parkinson’s UK

James White
Head of National Influencing, Alzheimer’s Society

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