SEVERAL patients fractured their hips as a result of falling at the Cardiff and Vale health board last year, new figures reveal.

Charity Age UK said falls resulting in injury can have "devastating" long-term effects on older people who account for the majority of hospital falls.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board reported seven falls resulting in hip fractures in the first eight months of 2019, the National Audit of Inpatient Falls (NAIF) by the Royal College of Physicians shows.

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The new audit resulted in 12 recommendations being made to trusts and health boards in England and Wales, including for a patient to receive a medical assessment within 30 minutes of a fall, and for hip fracture management to start "without delay".

Patients who fell at the Cardiff and Vale health board waited a median time of three hours and 36 minutes to be admitted for hip fracture care last year, the data reveals - shorter than the national median time of six hours and 18 minutes.

Across England and Wales, 910 falls resulting in hip fractures were reported between January and August last year.

The NAIF report says elderly patients are more likely to be severely injured after falling, and are twice as likely to die as a result of falling in hospital compared to those who fall outside hospital.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: "No one should experience a fall while under the care of a hospital, and certainly not one so severe that it results in a hip fracture.

"Such an injury can have a devastating long-term effect on an older person. It can lead to permanent disability, loss of independence and confidence, and future mental health need.

"Hospitals should be safe environments that both deliver care that minimises harm while also allowing people to have some physical activity wherever possible."

She added that while falls are dismissed as an "inevitable" part of growing older, work can be done to help prevent them, including making sure a patient's space is safe in hospital while still allowing them the freedom to move around.

A spokesman for health board said: “Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has long recognised the impact that a fall can have, especially for older people.

“However, we also recognise that falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and have worked hard in our communities and in hospital to try and reduce the risk of falls.

“A multidisciplinary approach and campaigns such as Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Moving, ensure that patients do not experience deconditioning and have good nutrition and hydration to reduce their risk of falling.

“If, unfortunately, someone does have a fall then the UHB recognises the potential serious consequences and works hard to admit and treat these patients as quickly as possible.

“The UHB has been focusing on the pathway for the treatment of patients with fractured neck of femur and is pleased to see the improvements being reflected in the national audit data.

“There is more to do in both preventing the number of falls, not only in the hospital but also in the community as well as continuing to reduce waiting times for necessary treatment.

“The Health Board has a well-established Falls Delivery Group that is overseeing implementation of the UHB Falls Framework and the actions required to achieve these goals.”