1. ITV Report

Small changes add up: improving care for hip fracture patients

A hip replacement operation underway Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees

By Helen Ford

Thousands of people are admitted to hospital every year with a broken hip. While the problem may be common, the consequences can be serious. Nationally, it's calculated that almost a third of people who fracture a hip will die within a year and a fifth will not be able to return to their own homes to live independent lives.

Ten years ago, staff at the Northumbria Healthcare Trust began work to improve its outcomes for patients in this situation. The trust sees more than seven hundred emergency hip fracture patients every year; many of them are struggling with wider health issues.

The Northumbria Healthcare programme was based on the idea that a series of small changes add up, to boost patients' chances of survival.

Some of those changes are simple and inexpensive. The top priority is ensuring they receive the correct nutrition - including doubling their normal calorific intake. Another target is encouraging patients to get up and about as soon as possible after surgery. Pain control was also reviewed, and patients continue to be monitored closely after discharge from hospital.

Diet and nutrition is central to the programme Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

After establishing its programme, Northumbria Healthcare joined forces over two years with other health trusts, including South Tees, to share best practice.

The whole point is to try and get benefits across the country and if we can prove that this model works, it gives a very good platform for others to go forward and do a similar thing.

Now that this is happening as part of best practice, it's definitely much safer than it was ten years ago having a hip fracture.

– Dominic Inman, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Inman points to Northumbria Healthcare's own figures, which indicate that between 2016-18, thirty four additional hip fracture patients lived a month or more after their injury, compared with 2014-16.

It is now ten years since Northumbria embarked on the project. Those involved say its success relies on teamwork; both within its hospitals and with colleagues around the country.

  • Warning: the following report contains pictures of a hip replacement operation