Falling figures are costly

FALLS by elderly people cost Suffolk's NHS almost £6million a year, new figures show today.

FALLS by elderly people cost Suffolk's NHS almost £6million a year, new figures show today.

The news was revealed as health bosses in the county urged the whole community to work together to help cut down on the number of falls and keep people safe.

Anita Walkinshaw , Suffolk Primary Care Trust's falls prevention co-ordinator, said falls and the fear of falling can affect people socially and emotionally, as well as having a financial cost.

She said: “Falls and the fear of falling can affect the wider community, not just an individual.

“What we can do is improve the quality of life for that person through falls prevention measures.

“Every single person can help. Anyone can refer someone in. If you know someone who has had two or more falls or thinks they might be at risk of falling, their first port of call is their GP for advice,”

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Speaking at a meeting of the PCT's board, Mrs Walkinshaw said some elderly people can be so afraid of falling over it can stop them from going out on their own.

She added that in Suffolk alone during 2004/05, falls cost Suffolk's NHS almost £6m.

Mrs Walkinshaw said: “We want to promote and maintain independent living, improve quality of life and empower people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.

“This will have the added benefits of reducing and preventing emergency admissions and saving money.”

She said the PCT have a number of measures in place to prevent falls including working closely with a range of organisations like councils, GP practices, and the ambulance service.

She said: “We are working with councils, housing schemes and other organisations to create a database of all the physical activities available in the county, such as swimming, t'ai chi, walking and dancing.

“Taking up a physical activity is the key to preventing falls as it can help with balance.”

On average, one hip fracture costs the NHS £12,000 and, nationally, £1.8billion a year is spent on falls-related costs.

Do you think the PCT is doing enough to prevent falls? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk



Falling is the most common cause of accidental death among older people aged over 75 in the UK, with nearly a fifth of broken hips proving fatal.