How Much Do Falls Cost The NHS?
Falls remain a major cause of injury and death in older adults, accounting for more than 50% of admissions to hospital caused by unintentional injury1.
The cost to the NHS is significant, and in this article, we will explain the impact they have on the NHS, both in a financial sense and the impact they have on the pressure on hospitals and the ambulance service.
The cost of falls to the NHS
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reports that the cost of falls to the NHS amounts to more than £2.3 billion every year, meaning the NHS spends more than £6 million each day as a result of falls2.
Cost of falls that occur in hospitals
An estimate by NICE in 2015 shows that inpatient falls, or falls that occur in hospitals, account for 25% of this cost. In 2015, an estimated 250,000 inpatients experienced a fall, costing trusts around £2,600 per patient3.
Cost of falls that occur in care homes and in the community
The remaining 75% of this cost, over £1.7 billion, is spent as a result of falls happening at home, in care homes, and in the community.
Falls in care homes represent a serious problem for the NHS, particularly if the care homes aren’t equipped to respond to falls themselves.
If a care home cannot assess and lift a fallen resident, they have to rely on the ambulance service to attend. With an average cost of £252 just for an ambulance to attend a call-out, the costs very quickly add up, especially if the faller has been waiting for a long time for the ambulance and needs to be admitted to hospital as a result.
In relation to falls that happen in people’s homes, the UK Government found that unaddressed fall hazards are estimated to cost the NHS £435 million4 each year, which is an incredibly significant amount for something that can typically be resolved very simply. In this article, we outline 5 simple home modifications that can be made to help prevent falls.
The human cost of falls
More importantly than the financial cost of falls, the impact that falls have on the elderly is serious. Falls are the leading reason that older people lose their independence and go into long-term care5.
A fall will also often cause an older person to enter a downward spiral of a fear of falling, leading to inactivity, loss of strength and balance, and as a result, an increased risk of further falls.
Falls in the elderly can result in a wide variety of consequences, ranging from physical consequences to social and psychological factors. We cover off the impact that falls have on the elderly in detail in a separate article, which you can read here.
The impact falls have on hospitals and the ambulance service
Ambulance services and hospitals in the UK are currently under intense pressure. Record numbers of callouts and significant handover delays mean that they are at capacity and unable to meet response time and handover targets.
Using ambulance resources to respond to minor and no-injury falls only adds to the pressure on ambulance services and on emergency departments at hospitals.
At Felgains, we are on an ambitious but urgent mission to eliminate all ambulance callouts to minor and non-injury falls, which we believe will have a significant impact on the cost of falls to the NHS. Read here about how we are working to achieve this goal.
- Reducing Ambulance response times | 3 solutions to the current crisis (with examples)
- How Mid and South Essex Health Care Partnership have Reduced Ambulance Callouts to Care Homes by 69%
- Falls in the elderly: facts, numbers and trends
- How Do You Lift an Elderly Person Who Has Fallen? (With Or Without Equipment)
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