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Elderly patients in the dark about falls clinics

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Confusion over the purpose of falls clinics is compromising their effectiveness, according to the results of a survey by the Royal College of Physicians.

The survey of 40 patients in England who had attended a falls clinic following a fall showed that although the patients felt that the clinic had helped them, they were not always sure about the purpose of the clinic and how it related to their own needs.

It also found that patients who did not feel engaged in the service often discontinued exercises and other activities designed to prevent another fall.

Users of the service were also not always given the results of health tests or told about ways of reducing their risk of falling again.

In the UK up to 33% of the people over 65 and 42% of those over 75 fall each year. The most common serious injury resulting from a fall is a hip fracture which costs the NHS £1.7bn a year and results in 14,000 deaths.

Professor Finbarr Martin, associate director for falls and bone health at the RCP's clinical effectiveness unit, said: ‘It is clear from the results of the audit that patients' understanding and priorities differ from those of health professionals.’

‘The lesson we need to learn from this is to individualise rehabilitation programmes, focusing on the patient's goal, which in most cases is independence,’ he added.

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