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Bone health – optimising treatment of osteoporosis in primary care

Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fragility fracture due to osteoporosis. These can have a profound impact on patients and their quality of life, causing pain and disability. Bone strengthening medication can have a big impact in improving bone density – potentially reducing the risk of fracture by more than 50% when taken correctly. However, evidence shows that around half of patients stop their medication within the first year.

The Bone Health project aims to reduce fragility fractures and improve the management of people with osteoporosis by identifying at-risk patients in primary care who would benefit from a medication review and ensuring they are treated appropriately. A new case-finding tool easily identifies at-risk patients on GP practice systems and supports clinicians in carrying out reviews. By having regular discussions at their GP practice with a nurse or pharmacist, more at-risk patients have been encouraged to keep taking their medicines.

In the initial phase the project is working with ten GP practices in Oxfordshire. By June 2022 nearly 130 of these reviews led to improvements in people taking their medication or having it changed. As a result, 6-7 fractures will be avoided over the next two years, saving the NHS and social care around £100,000. The Oxford AHSN is working with the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) medicines optimisation team to see if the scheme can be rolled out to more GP practices more widely.

The Bone Health project is a collaboration between the University of Oxford, PRIMIS (part of the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham) and the Oxford AHSN. It has received funding from Health Education England.

Contact: alison.gowdy@oxfordahsn.org