04.12.2022

Hip patients in deadly postcode lottery for care which leaves some twice as likely to die

Hip fracture patients face a postcode lottery, with some more than twice as likely to die within a month than others. Each year more than 70,000 people are admitted to a UK hospital for a hip fracture. 

A team from the University of Bristol found in some hospitals, 10 per cent of patients died within 30 days, while others saw just 3.7 per cent die. Some kept patients in for an average of 12 days, and others for 42.

In some hospitals, the chance of a patient needing to return was around 4 per cent – in others it was 30 per cent.

Hip fracture patients face a postcode lottery, with some more than twice as likely to die within a month than others

Patients had a lower risk of dying in hospitals where staff met at monthly meetings to discuss feedback from patients.

Deborah Alsina MBE, of Versus Arthritis, said: ‘Hip fractures mainly affect older people… quality of care is a key indicator of whether we’re getting older people’s care right in general. This research suggests we are not.’

An NHS spokesman said it was ‘continually monitoring’ data on care inequalities.

Dr Rita Patel, lead author of the study, said: ‘It seems likely that teams prepared to put time aside to examine their patients’ experiences are motivated to improve their service.

‘One of the key factors of the need for patients to come back into hospital appears to be due to communication. Those hospitals where rehabilitation staff understood how soon services in the community would be able to start supporting a patient after discharge saw far fewer patient readmissions.’

It is estimated 890 excess readmissions might be avoided each year in England and Wales if all hospitals better understood delays between discharge and initiation of community therapy, the researchers said.

The study’s findings will feed into the development of a new ‘Toolkit’, which is being developed in collaboration with the Royal Osteoporosis Society (pictured: stock image with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall presenting), for hospital managers and senior doctors

The study’s findings will feed into the development of a new ‘Toolkit’, which is being developed in collaboration with the Royal Osteoporosis Society, for hospital managers and senior doctors.

Jill Griffin, core investigator on the project and Clinical Engagement Lead at the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said: ‘The research findings have given us valuable information and shown us how we can work with healthcare providers and hospitals to improve patient recovery after a hip fracture.

‘The study data has enabled us to make recommendations that we are using to build a toolkit for healthcare professionals and our aim is that it will dramatically improve the quality of care for everyone who suffers a hip fracture.’

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