Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
I am issuing this statement to ensure Members are aware of the commitment to achieving 100% coverage for all health boards by Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) and to strengthen the mandate to support the development of services in this area. I expect health boards to achieve 100% by September 2024.
A fracture liaison service ensures that patients aged 50 and over with a broken bone after a fall have their bone health and falls risk checked and managed to lower their risk of a subsequent fracture. Made up of a team of healthcare professionals, fracture liaison services bring clear benefits to the patient in the long term and have been shown to be clinically and cost-effective.
In early 2022, officials surveyed the provision of fracture liaison services. This data showed significant variation and room for improvement and, together with strong campaigns from the third sector and patients, led to the inaugural Wales Fracture Liaison Service Conference being held on 20 October 2022. The conference brought together over 150 clinicians from across Wales and beyond to promote bone health and to raise awareness of secondary fragility fracture management. The conference also formally launched the All-Wales FLS Assurance and Development Group.
The All-Wales FLS Assurance and Development group has been set up to support health boards to realise benefits both clinically and financially. The group held its first meeting in late October and is working initially to promote and encourage health boards to participate in the National FLS audit in order to provide an accurate baseline for the assurance group and audit providers to work with.
The National Clinical Lead for Falls and Frailty is supporting each health board through a series of visits, with an aim to provide specific advice and understand local barriers to progress. The Royal Society of Osteoporosis have also been invited to these visits to provide their invaluable advice and reflections.
I expect health boards to take ownership of these services and to utilise the funding already available to them. Projections from the Royal Osteoporosis Society indicate they would save money by doing so.
The Welsh Government also continues to fund participation within the national clinical audit programme, which includes the FLS Database. The database provides us with the data and narrative regarding FLS in Wales, benchmarks progress against other areas within the United Kingdom and is pivotal in helping us determine our national approach to ensuring FLS are being developed across Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.