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Occupational therapists can help lower hospital fall rate

Monday 31st July 2017
Around 250,000 NHS patients suffer a fall while in hospital each year, data shows. Image: Srisakorn via iStock
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Occupational therapists could play an important role in helping to reduce the number of falls patients suffer in hospital, as new figures show that around 250,000 people fall while being treated at an NHS facility each year.

Figures compiled by NHS Improvement show that the average cost to the health service of treating patients after falls is £2,600, with the vast majority (83 per cent) occurring in acute hospitals. Meanwhile, 14 per cent occur in mental health facilities and three per cent in community hospitals.

Altogether, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence believes falls sustained by hospital inpatients may account for one-quarter of the total £2.3 billion care cost associated with falls across the NHS.

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of those who suffered a fall were found to be aged 65 and over, indicating that action needs to be taken to ensure the utmost health and safety standards for older patients at all times.

This is where occupational therapists could come into the picture, advising hospitals on possible safety improvements to their wards to make sure patients are not put at increased risk of falls.

Over-65s are at risk of suffering serious bone breaks should they fall, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life, so it is vital that the health service is doing all it can with support from occupational therapists to try to reduce this risk.

Speaking with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Catherine Bramwell-Walsh, a falls prevention practitioner at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, stated: "The effect of a fall can be life-changing and this report shows the importance of patient safety for both the patient and the NHS and why it should be at the top of all of our agendas."

With this in mind, greater intervention from occupational therapists could help to prevent thousands of falls each year, saving the health service valuable money and resources as a result.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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