An NHS postcode lottery is affecting the amount of time hip fracture patients spend in hospital, according to a new report. This is leading to a delay in recovery for thousands and forcing many into care homes prematurely.
The National Hip Fracture Database (NHFD), composed of the British Geriatrics Society and the British Orthopaedic Association, analysed the treatment of patients across 190 hospitals in England and Wales.
It found that whilst some patients are discharged in less than two weeks (12.4 days), others spend a month and a half in NHS wards (44.5 days) - more than a threefold variation across the country.
The 2012 National Report warns that poor care on wards and lack of support to get patients mobile mean that those who spend longest in hospital are potentially not recovering as quickly as they could be.
Dr Colin Currie, clinical lead for geriatric medicine for the database project, said: “The longer you marinate in hospital after a hip fracture, the worse your chances of making a good recovery.”
“With hip fracture recovery, it’s use it or lose it. You have got to restore function. That means getting out of bed, getting dressed and walking around.”
The report authors also noted that in some areas of the country the chance of ending up in a care home after hip fracture treatment was 35 per cent, but just 15 per cent in other areas.
The NHFD now say that better collaboration is needed between the NHS and social services to help patients overcome this postcode lottery.
The group said: "Only better collaboration between the NHS and the social services can ensure real and sustained improvement, with more frail patients getting home sooner and safely, and many avoiding unnecessary care home admission."
Some positives were highlighted in the report, with mortality rates falling 12% in four years across a certain number of hospitals.
Natalie Beswetherick, director of practice and development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: "The continued improvement in hospital care highlighted in this report is very welcome.
"However, that good work must not be undone by a lack of community rehabilitation.
"Too many elderly people are being left in hospital longer than they need to be because no therapy support is in place to help them be discharged and remain independent at home."
If you want to be covered for a stay in a private hospital, look for a health insurance policy with full inpatient cover.
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