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PM’s constituent sends open letter asking him to intervene over Government u-turns on NHS fracture services

Head office

14 Dec 2023

The PM’s constituent, Stephen Robinson, has written an open letter asking Rishi Sunak to intervene after several misleading claims and U-turns from the Government on Fracture Liaison Services (FLS).

Half of women over 50 suffer fractures due to osteoporosis, and a fifth of men. Fractures are the fourth worst cause of disability and premature death.  Fractures are preventable with safe, effective drugs, which are highly affordable for the NHS.  But 90,000 patients are missing out on them due to the absence of FLS in half of NHS Trusts.  One such area is the PM’s patch in Richmond.

Stephen suffered ten spinal fractures aged 60 and was forced out of work, due to delayed diagnosis of osteoporosis.  An FLS could have caught Stephen after the first break and put him on medication to prevent the next nine.  Since there’s no FLS in the PM’s constituency, GPs dismissed the agonising pain as ‘ageing’.  Stephen lost his job as a truck driver and had to go private for a late diagnosis.

When Stephen wrote to the PM (his MP) about FLS, he received a reply misleadingly claiming that FLS had been “prioritised in the Elective Care Plan” and would receive a share of £8bn investment.  On 14 September, another Minister, Lord Evans, promised that FLS would receive a “prioritised package of measures” in the Autumn Statement, before retracting the commitment the next day.  250 Parliamentarians have backed the campaign for FLS. 

In his open letter, Stephen Robinson says:

“I’m not political.  But I think when Ministers say they’ll do things in Parliament, those promises should be kept.  Otherwise why should we trust anything your Government says?

“As my own MP, and as my Prime Minister, I’m asking you to intervene because you’re the only person who can bang heads together and make this sensible, cost-effective investment in our NHS actually happen, and quickly”.  

Stephen’s open letter appeared as a full page article in today’s Times. 

Photo credits: Stephen Robinson, ©Andy Commins

 

Stephen’s letter

Dear Prime Minister,  

I’m one of your constituents.  I wrote to you in July about how late diagnosis of osteoporosis shattered my life – and what needs to be done to make sure no-one else has to experience the agony I’ve gone through.  I was shocked when you wouldn’t meet me.   

That’s why I’m writing again.  I wish I didn’t have to; I would much rather have told you in person.  I know you’re a busy man, but I also know my story is important.   

By the time I finally got my osteoporosis diagnosed, I’d suffered 10 fractures in my spine.  I had to pay to go private in the end.  That was not easy since I’d lost my job as a forklift truck driver, because the pain made the work unbearable.   

I remember months of living in the chair, drugged up to the eyeballs, counting the minutes until the next painkillers.   

Looking back, I feel cheated of years of my life.  A Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) could have diagnosed me early.  But these services are missing in half of NHS Trusts, leaving 90,000 people unprotected – including me and all the rest of your constituents.    

In your letter back, you said FLS had already been “prioritized” in your Elective Care Plan and would get a share of £8 billion investment.  But the truth is they weren’t mentioned once in that plan, and they didn’t get a penny.  

I went to Conservative Conference to tell my story.  Standing for so long almost killed me, but it felt worth it when your Health Secretary said FLS are “a priority”.  

In September, I watched the House of Lords debate osteoporosis.  Your Minister, Lord Evans, promised you’d fund FLS in your Autumn Statement.  I was devastated when that promise was broken too.  

Lord Evans also promised an “Expert Steering Group”.  The truth is that doesn’t exist either.  

I’m not political.  But I think when Ministers say they’ll do things in Parliament, those promises should be kept.  Otherwise why should we trust anything your Government says?  

As my own MP, and as my Prime Minister, I’m asking you to intervene because you’re the only person who can bang heads together and make this minuscule, cost-effective investment in our NHS actually happen, and quickly.   

I can’t face the new year without knowing others will be spared the agony I went through.    

I hope you and your family have a very happy, pain-free Christmas.  

Yours sincerely 

Stephen Robinson 

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