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Some of the people who suffer hip fractures in the UK have to wait for up to 80 days before they are able to access physiotherapy-based rehabilitation services, a new report has highlighted.
New research from the Royal College of Physicians has uncovered serious delays in the time between patients sustaining hip fractures and being able to begin physiotherapy, which could lead to their health worsening while they wait.
Something of a 'postcode lottery' has been found to be behind the delays in referrals. On average, the length of time patients had to wait for referral was 15 days.
However, in some parts of the UK, just one in five hip fracture patients are referred to rehabilitation services within a week, leaving the vast majority potentially waiting a dangerously long time for follow-up care.
What's more, when this care is administered, some patients are not even able to access one hour's worth each week, which is unlikely to be enough to help them to get back on their feet.
The NHS recommends rehabilitative exercises should be offered to patients once a day while they are in hospital, but there are currently no guidelines for how this care should be administered after a patient has been discharged.
Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, highlighted that hip fracture patients who do not receive timely rehab are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression and general deteriorating health, which could see them lose their mobility altogether.
As a result, more cost pressures will be piled on the NHS, as well as extra strain on patients' families.
"High-quality and intensive rehab in the first week after surgery gives hip fracture patients the best chance of recovery," Professor Middleton stated.
"At least 20 minutes of therapy a day could free up 1,000 hospital beds a year. We must invest in transforming acute and community services to ensure access to high-quality rehab and continuous care for all those who need it."
Written by Mathew Horton
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