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New partnership forged to shape UK policy and reduce hip fractures


A new collaboration led by Southampton researchers is aiming to change national policy and practice to routinely assess risk of fractures in the community.


Every year over 500,000 older people in the UK suffer breaks due to the weakening of the bones through osteoporosis. This costs over £5 billion annually.


Southampton-led research has demonstrated that systematic risk screening through GP surgeries significantly reduces the number of hip fractures. If such an approach were used nationwide, it would substantially impact the burden of fractures on our NHS.


The new partnership, led by NIHR Southampton BRC researcher Professor Nicholas Harvey, will disperse the findings of this trial to drive new practice across the UK.


It includes the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, University of Southampton, University of Sheffield and the UK Royal Osteoporosis Society.


Identifying people at high risk

The partnership will drive a consultation to gather evidence and produce a policy report. This will highlight the benefits of automated systematic identification of people at high fracture risk in primary care.


This project will be delivered with the UK Royal Osteoporosis Society as the lead partner, capitalising on the charity’s substantial expertise and experience of policy work. This includes its key role in the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Osteoporosis and Bone Health.


Professor Nicholas Harvey, Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology & Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist, said:


“We are hugely grateful to the Medical Research Foundation for their support of this important work, which gives us a real opportunity to alter UK policy in a way that would achieve a step change in our ability to detect individuals at high fracture risk in the community and thus prevent potentially life changing outcomes in older people.”


Screening for osteoporosis

The new partnership builds on findings from the MRC-funded Screening for Osteoporosis in Older People (SCOOP) trial, led by the University of Southampton.


Recommendations will be presented in a report to policymakers such as the UK Screening Programme Committee and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.


Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director and Professor of Rheumatology, MRC LEC, University of Southampton and President of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, said:


“This important collaboration between our academic institutions and the Royal Osteoporosis Society demonstrates the huge value in the synthesis of expertise across academic understanding and policy development, and is entirely congruent with the mission of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, which is delighted to support this work.”



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