Thousands of people over 50 quit work as fractures take toll

Tens of thousands of over-50s are quitting their jobs each year and two million work days are lost because of osteoporosis-related fractures, shocking figures reveal.

The report, commissioned by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, lays bare the devastating impact of the degenerative disease on Britain’s 3.5 million sufferers and also the country’s economy.

It found 81,000 people of working age suffer fractures every year because of the brittle bone disease. Around 27,000 of these aged 50 to 65 are forced to leave work as a result. And 1.9 million days off are taken each year due to fractures.

The data, which has been handed over to the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, shows that tackling osteoporosis will have a massive impact on solving the unemployment and sickness crisis.

It comes as leading charities, top medics, business leaders and seven Royal colleges signed an open letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt demanding immediate action to tackle the disease.

They are backing the Sunday Express Better Bones campaign, which was launched in collaboration with the ROS, asking for money and resources to be ploughed into preventative care.

We are calling for £30million extra funding each year for specialist bone clinics called Fracture Liaison Services, which will diagnose and treat the condition.

Everyone over the age of 50 should also have access to them and a dedicated bone fracture tsar appointed in each UK nation to oversee this care. It has been estimated that our proposed package of measures will save 8,000 lives over five years.

The letter states: “Half of women over 50 will suffer fractures. These are the fourth most burdensome health condition measured in disability and premature death.

READ MORE: End the postcode lottery of Osteoporosis detection, pleads MP

“As well as the consequences for patients, fractures place enormous burdens on health and social care services. Fractures among adults over 50 are the second highest driver of hospital bed occupancy.

“Every single year, half a million patients fracture, requiring valuable A&E, radiology and orthopaedic time, operation time, rehabilitation care and social care.

“Our economy suffers too. Painful spinal fractures are a key driver for older employees leaving the workforce, or reducing their hours due to back pain. We can’t afford to overlook such a preventable cause of worklessness.”

It adds: “We hope you will use your forthcoming Autumn State-ment to seize these opportunities for the labour market, public services and, most importantly, for people who are in great need.”

The Royal Colleges of Physicians, Anaesthetists, GPs, Surgeons, Emergency Medicine, Nursing, and Occupational Thera-pists are among the 30 organisations that have signed the letter.

Leading charities have also joined forces with us, including Age UK and Parkinson’s UK, along with the Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of British Industry, along with Mumsnet and Gransnet. It is also backed by 243 MPs and peers.

A further 808 medics have signed a separate letter demanding action. Stars including Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood and Felicity Kendal have also weighed in.

Craig Jones, CEO of the ROS said: “Ageist stereotypes portray osteoporosis as a retired person’s illness, but these figures show the scale of wasted talent among employees over 50 and how this undermines our economy.

“If the Chancellor uses his Autumn Statement to give over-50s access to a Fracture Liaison Service, we can plug this enormous hole in our labour market.”

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Campaign timeline

Week 1 – 25 June
Campaign launches with support of 100 Parliamentarians and Age UK.

Week 4 – 16 July
The medical establishment swings behind the campaign, with seven Royal Medical Colleges, representing over 600,000 medics, calling for Fracture Liaison Services, along with the BMA.

Week 6 – 30 July
CBI, Federation of Small Businesses, TUC and Unite call for universal Fracture Liaison Services to keep older people in work.

Week 7 – 6 August
43 charities call for action to prevent fractures, including Alzheimers Society, Parkinson’s, Versus Arthritis and Breast Cancer UK.

Week 8 – 13 August
The number of Parliamentarians backing the campaign rises to 240. Mumsnet and Gransnet call for universal Fracture Liaison Services since osteoporosis affects every other mother and every other grandmother.

Week 9 – 20 August
Minister Maria Caulfield writes in the Sunday Express that “Government will explore setting up more Fracture Liaison Services” and that she will “say more later in the year”.

Week 11 – 3 September
Association of Ambulance CEOs, St Johns Ambulance, Ambulance Staff Charity and Care England back the campaign so we can reduce pressure on ambulances and care homes.

Week 14 – 24 September
Government Minister Lord Evans says “We are proposing to announce, in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, a package of measures to expand the provision of Fracture Liaison Services and improve their current quality”.

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