The National Osteoporosis Society is calling for the fragile bone disease to be included in the revised GP contract, currently being negotiated between doctors and the Department of Health (DOH).
Half of women and one in five men aged over 50, will break a bone in the UK because of osteoporosis, which costs the NHS and government £5 million a day to treat.
Yet the society believes preventing broken bones could be easily achieved in primary care and has suggested that GPs start by targeting three high risk groups – the elderly in care homes, people taking corticosteroids for conditions such as asthma and people who have already had a fragility fracture.
“The time is ripe to start delivering first-class osteoporosis services to the millions of people either at risk of, or currently living with, broken bones caused by the fragile bone disease,” said NOS deputy chief executive Jackie Parrington.
Dr Jonathan Bayly, primary care advisor to the NOS, added: “Primary care offers a vast potential and is best placed to prevent bone fractures due to osteoporosis in the NHS. The numbers of broken bones as well as their personal and financial costs are growing so it is vital that GPs act now to prioritise osteoporosis to ensure people can access services.
“With the current range of effective treatments that reduce the risk of fractures, treating high risk patients will ultimately decrease a GP’s workload by reducing the excess number of consultations – which can be as many as 14 in a year – that can follow a broken bone. Preventing fractures is not difficult, rather the opposite, it is effective, affordable and straightforward.”