Victory at last! Biggest policy change in memory scored for people with osteoporosis

Head office

26 May 2024

Over the last 46 weeks, the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) has been campaigning with the Sunday Express (“Better Bones”) and, more recently, the Daily Mail (“War on Osteoporosis”) for the extension of Fracture Liaison Services (FLS). 

These crucial services diagnose people with osteoporosis early, straight after the first broken bone, and help people stay on treatment. But these clinics are missing in half of Trusts in England due to a brutal postcode lottery, and many FLSs are severely under-resourced, resulting in a revolving door of fracture patients in hospitals.  

On Thursday, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins promised in Parliament to extend FLS to all 42 Integrated Care Systems in England by 2030. 

Today, the Sunday Express and the Daily Mail have reported that Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has matched this commitment, meaning both main parties of Government are now pledging universal FLS coverage. The Liberal Democrats have also shown their support throughout the campaign.

Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Osteoporosis is a debilitating illness that leads millions of people to suffer painful bone breaks and disability.

“The faster patients are diagnosed, and the earlier they can be treated, the sooner they can get back to living their lives to the full.

“Labour has listened to this important campaign, and we will make sure the NHS diagnoses and treats osteoporosis patients on time.”

Labour confirmed to the newspapers that “We are matching the Westminster Government’s ambition to expand the use of Fracture Liaison Services to every Integrated Care Board in England by 2030.”

Our campaign for these vital services has been supported by 271 Parliamentarians from across the four nations. The Presidents of seven Royal Medical Colleges, together representing over 600,000 doctors and nurses, have backed us so we can reduce pressure on hospitals. 

Meanwhile, employers’ organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, CBI, Federation of Small Businesses and British Retail Consortium have all supported the campaign, so we can stop fractures forcing people out of work. The TUC, GMB and Unite unions all joined the call, alongside 41 charities representing people at higher risk of fractures, as well as Mumsnet and Gransnet.

When everyone across the country has access to an FLS, we’ll prevent 74,000 fractures over the following five years. This will include prevention of 31,000 broken hips. The effect will be to lift enormous burdens from the NHS, including 750,000 NHS bed days over the same period. 

This news follows the Ministerial mandate for 100% FLS coverage in Wales, which has been supported by a transformation fund.

Chief Executive Craig Jones said:

“This is the biggest policy breakthrough people with osteoporosis have ever had. At last, the tragedy of preventable fractures has been recognised by both parties of Government, and a shared commitment has been made for universal services to diagnose people early. 

"We’re not stopping there. Now we have mandates for better osteoporosis care in England and Wales, we’ll be putting the spotlight onto Scottish and Northern Irish Ministers next. Meanwhile, we’re making the case for a national screening programme to prevent 8,000 broken hips every year, which is urgently needed to change and save lives.

"With both main parties leading on this issue at the start of the general election campaign, it’s clear that osteoporosis prevention deserves a place at the top of the public health agenda. 

"We’ll carry on fighting for the people who need us, until the day we beat osteoporosis for good. No more broken bones. No more broken lives”.

Help our specialist nurses continue to support those in need