The National Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) Steering Group has welcomed approximately €560,000 in funding through the HSE’s National Service Plan 2022.
The new funding will go towards supporting seven Advanced Nurse Practitioner posts for Fracture Liaison Services.
This announcement is the latest milestone in the progress of bone health care in Ireland. The Fracture Liaison Service steering group first called for the establishment of a National Fracture Liaison Service in Ireland in 2018.
Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and break easily from a low trauma or minor fall and is common as a person ages.
Research published earlier this year found that such fractures are one of the leading healthcare costs across Europe. In Ireland as our population ages, the predicted increase in fragility fractures is 58%, the highest of all EU countries. (SCOPE report 2021)
The cost (for fracture treatment) was estimated to be close to €400 million in Ireland over a decade ago, projected to be €1 billion today, and close to €2 billion by 2030.
The new specialist nursing posts will play a critical role in improving patient care by proactively identifying and managing the care of patients presenting with a first fragility fracture. The HSE’s investment in these roles means that these patients will be managed throughout their full journey of assessment, treatment, and monitoring of osteoporosis, as well as education around falls risk and strength and balance exercises to help prevent repeat fractures. This is because after a first fracture, the risk of another is markedly increased in subsequent years.
The posts will be located in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, the Mater Misercordiae University Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, University Hospital Galway, Sligo University Hospitals, Connolly Hospital and St James’ Hospital. This is an important step towards embedding high-quality FLS across Ireland.
Professor Frances Dockery, Co-Chair of the Fracture Liaison Service Steering Committee welcomed the posts stating that: “Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) provide the best method of identifying, treating and monitoring patients who have just sustained a fragility fracture. These services are proven to improve treatment rates for secondary fracture prevention, reduce future fracture numbers, and will substantially reduce the cost burden to the health service”.
Mr Aaron Glynn, FLS Co-chair, added: “These posts are welcomed however it is imperative that national implementation with full resourcing occurs in the next two years, which will enable us to address rising fracture numbers, create value for the health service and bring significant benefits to patients who would otherwise go on to sustain repeated fragility fractures”.