A major new audit conducted for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveals that hip fracture patients can wait up to 80 days before seeing a physiotherapist at home after being discharged from the hospital.
Hip fracture is the most common cause of injury-related death in adults. It costs the NHS and social care £1 billion per year. Hip fracture will affect one in three women over 50. Hip fractures are more prevalent than breast cancer.
The audit, which was conducted by the Royal College of Physicians reveals the average wait was 15 days, but some patients have to wait up to 80 days. The number of rehabilitation patients received varied greatly, with some patients getting less than one hour per week.
NICE guidelines state after surgery, hip fracture patients should be offered rehabilitation at least once a day. The survey revealed four out of ten (43%) missed a day’s therapy due to no physios being available.
Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said: "Hip fracture patients who do not receive rehab soon after leaving hospital risk depression, deteriorating health, and losing their mobility.
"This can bring not only further costs and pressures for the system, but more importantly, devastating consequences for the individual and their families.
‘High quality and intensive rehab in the first week after surgery gives hip fracture patients the best chance of recovery, and at least 20 minutes of therapy a day could free up 1000 hospital beds a year. We must invest in transforming acute and community services to ensure access to high-quality rehab and continuous care for all those who need it."
Iona Price, deputy chair of the Falls and Fragility Fracture Audit Programme, lost her 88-year-old mother to a chest infection; one of the risk factors for hip fracture patients who do not receive continuous rehab after leaving the hospital.
She said: "My mother broke her hip in 2012 and had to wait almost four months for community rehab services. During that time, she had to move into a nursing home and was completely dependent on others for her every need which soon led to depression.
"Complete loss of independence aside, I can’t help but think she would have made a much healthier recovery had her access to treatment been timely. We encourage patients and their loved ones to raise concerns with their local GP if they are not able to access the rehab that they need."
Only one in five services (20.5%) successfully maintained the continuity of their patients’ rehabilitation, providing optimal care and the best possible chance of recovery.
The CSP is working with patient groups and other professions to draw up best practise guidance for the rehabilitation of people with hip fracture in the UK.