New osteoporosis service

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A NEW service to assess patients for the risk of osteoporosis is being introduced in West Norfolk.

The news comes as World Osteoporosis Day takes place on October 20.

A three-year contract has been awarded to Care UK to provide the mobile DEXA scanning service following a considerable amount of work carried out by local GPs to propose and develop the service, which is due to begin in the next few weeks.

Care UK have worked closely with NHS Norfolk and the local Osteoporosis Society, and will offer the service to high risk groups.

Dr Tony Burgess, vice-chair of the West Norfolk and Wisbech Clinical Commissioning Consortium, said: “We are delighted that people throughout West Norfolk now have their own mobile bone-scanning service, following many months of collaborative work with local health partners.”

Healthy bones are largely down to your genes, however there are lots of other factors that can increase your risk of getting osteoporosis. People who may be at risk include:

• Women who have had an early menopause or hysterectomy with removal of both ovaries before the age of 45 years.

• Men with low testosterone levels.

• People who have had a broken bone after only a minor fall.

• People who use steroids for such conditions as asthma or arthritis.

• People with a family history of osteoporosis.

• People who are immobile for a long time.

• People who drink heavily.

• People who smoke.

• People who are underweight or have an eating disorder.

• People with medical conditions like Crohn’s or Coeliac disease which affect the absorption of foods.

Sue Crossman, Chief Executive of the West Norfolk and Wisbech Clinical Commissioning Consortium, said: “This service will give many more patients the opportunity to have local access to an early diagnostic test. Treatment can then be recommended as appropriate, potentially reducing the number of people with advanced osteoporosis and fractures in later life.”

The scan involves a painless test to measure bone density, which will help to diagnose if you have osteoporosis. The scan can also determine the likelihood of a person developing osteoporosis in the future, giving them the chance to seek advice and/or treatment at an early stage.

Janet Ritchie, national radiology lead from Care UK’s specialist medical imaging team, said: “A DEXA scan is a really simple way of diagnosing osteoporosis, a disease that affects approximately three million people in the UK. Detecting it early gives sufferers a chance to work out a treatment plan to help strengthen their bones.

“Many people associate osteoporosis with older people. While this can be true, there are also a number of other risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease.”

The mobile scanning unit will be located in Docking, Swaffham and King’s Lynn. The service will operate on a rotational basis every month and patients will require a referral from their GP.

Previously, DEXA scanning was only offered in Norwich and in Peterborough.

Ian Ayres, Executive Director of Delivery (West and Central) at NHS Norfolk, said: “Our aim is to increase the scale of care available at community level - an aspiration we made in our five year strategy for 2009-14, “Bold and Ambitious”.

“Providing mobile DEXA scanning to people in West Norfolk is a valuable part of that, as it will enable patients to be scanned closer to their home.”

If you feel you may have or be at risk of developing osteoporosis, speak to your GP in the first instance and they will advise if you should be referred for a scan. For more information about Care UK’s mobile DEXA service, visit www.careuksmi.co.uk

World Osteoporosis Day is organised by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

For details, visit its website at: www.iofbonehealth.org