GPs urged to sign up for funds

NORTHUMBERLAND GPs are being urged to sign up to new financial incentives for tackling a fragile bone disease.

The new QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework) indicators mean that these doctors will receive payment if they assess patients for osteoporosis following a fracture and for starting them on an appropriate treatment, as they do for other conditions such as heart disease and hypertension.

In the county, annual hip fracture rates in over 65s are above the national average (517.1 compared with 457.6) and it is estimated that 17,600 people aged between 50 and 84 in Northumberland suffer from the condition to varying degrees.

Osteoporosis Champion for the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Graham Davenport said: “There are simple steps that every GP can take to prevent fractures and when an older person presents with a fracture, we should take a moment to question whether this patient could have osteoporosis.

“With the QOF incentive, hopefully more GPs will now take that time.”

He added: “By identifying those at risk we really can save the lives of our patients.”

The National Osteoporosis Society has been calling for osteoporosis to be given this higher priority for a number of years.

One of its main campaigners is Morpeth resident John Lowes, who has had the disease for more than 35 years.

He was awarded with an MBE for his work in raising thousands of pounds for the charity over the years.