Warning over ‘shortsighted’ cuts to fall prevention service in Essex

The service will be replaced with a less formal falls prevention programme. Picture: JUPITERIMAGES

The service will be replaced with a less formal falls prevention programme. Picture: JUPITERIMAGES - Credit: www.jupiterimages.com

Axing a falls prevention service in Essex poses a significant risk to patient safety, an NHS report warns.

Mike Le Cornu, chairman of Tendring Pensioners' Action Group. Picture: NIGEL BROWN

Mike Le Cornu, chairman of Tendring Pensioners' Action Group. Picture: NIGEL BROWN - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council (ECC) is decommissioning the scheme currently provided by Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) in June this year.

The aim of the service is to protect vulnerable and elderly people from falls by offering advice and making improvements at their homes.

In a report by North East Essex NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that is due to be discussed by its governing body tomorrow, it states: “As previously reported to the board, notice was served by ECC for the decommissioning of the falls service in June 2018. This decision poses a significant risk to patient safety.”

The document says the change also presents a financial danger to the CCG.

John Spence, Essex County Council cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care. Picture: CONTRIBU

John Spence, Essex County Council cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant


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Mike Le Cornu, chairman of the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “I don’t know how much the prevention service costs but it’s got to be less than an ambulance to the hospital or a stay in hospital. They are shortsighted cuts and it will result in more people being injured.”

Mel Crouch, clinical quality lead at the CCG, said workshops were being undertaken to discuss what impact the removal of the service would have, and to evaluate the current falls prevention support provided by various organisations in the area.

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She added: “Further pathway meetings are planned with ACE and other system partners to identify and agree how the safety risk can be mitigated.”

ECC has agreed to continue to fund the ‘strength and balance’ component of the service on an interim basis, Ms Crouch said.

John Spence, ECC cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care, said the Essex falls scheme had been in place since 2014 but it did not “realise its potential in prevention”.

The council will shift to a “less formal” falls prevention programme, Mr Spence said.

He added: “This new way forward will continue to assist the county’s most vulnerable people through partnership working and focussing our resources on more effective services like the prevention of strokes, depression in older people and loneliness/isolation along with the encouragement of physical activity. All of which are contributing factors in falls.”

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