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MSs warned of ‘alarming’ increase in musculoskeletal disorders

06 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Conservative MS Altaf Hussain

Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter

A surgeon-turned-Senedd member has raised concerns about an “alarming” increase in musculoskeletal disorders.

Altaf Hussain, a former consultant orthopaedic surgeon, warned that one in three adults aged 50 or over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture.

The Conservative MS said older adults have a five to eight times higher risk of dying within three months compared with those without a fracture.

“This increased risk of death remains for almost 10 years,” said Mr Hussain. “It is not just hip fractures that we have to worry about.

“There has been an alarming increase in a whole range of musculoskeletal disorders. They are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability.”

‘Dramatic rise’

Leading a debate on joint and bone health on June 5, Mr Hussain pointed out that the number of over-65s in Wales is predicted to rise by about 45% over the next two decades.

The Tory shadow social care minister called for a radical rethink to halt a “dramatic rise in unnecessary deaths and avoidable disabilities”.

He warned: “We can’t seem to get a grip on waiting times despite the doubling of the health and care budget over the past quarter of a century.”

Mr Hussain told the chamber the median average wait for hip surgery was 452 days in Wales, with Swansea having the longest waiting times at an average of 668 days.

The South Wales West MS said 96,500 patients were waiting for trauma and orthopaedic surgery across Wales, with nearly half waiting longer than nine months.

‘Simple steps’

Mr Hussain urged the Welsh Government to redouble efforts on falls prevention and called for a women’s health strategy to address the impact of menopause on bone health.

Setting out some simple steps people can take to improve their health, the surgeon stressed the importance of vitamin D, calcium-rich foods and muscle-strengthening exercises.

He added that research shows smoking and drinking too much alcohol can weaken bones.

He said: “If we can do these simple things, we can reduce our risk of joint pain and fractures.

“Simple interventions can help us to maintain a healthier later life, but also reduce the strain on our NHS and social services departments.”

‘Incredible clinician’

Eluned Morgan, the health secretary, told the Senedd that almost a million people have a musculoskeletal condition – about a third of Wales’ population.

She said: “It’s always intimidating to respond to Altaf Hussain – this incredible clinician – but this is his specialist area, so it’s particularly intimidating this evening.”

She confirmed the Welsh Government is on track to meet a commitment to make a fracture liaison service available in all corners of Wales by September.

Baroness Morgan highlighted a dramatic 71% fall in outpatients waiting more than 52 weeks since April 2022, with two-year waits tumbling by 72%.

She said: “I have been breathing down their necks, all over the country, when it comes to orthopaedic surgery and getting those longest waiting lists down.”


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Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 hour ago

Aren’t musculoskeletal disorders the result of diet. Given that the Conservatives attack on the poorest, with the rise of malnutrition and other Victorian era diseases. This is another example of their penny pinching Austerity policy, leading to much larger expense in the long term

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 hour ago

What does she mean intimidating, does he scare her or make her feel guilty and inadequate…?

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
27 minutes ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I believe it to be that Altaf Hussain really does know what he is talking about as it has effectively been his life’s work so would know far more than Eluned Morgan will ever know.

Mandi A
Mandi A
1 hour ago

So Ms Morgan feels intimidated ie. in the dock, so classic response, she intimidates the next in line by “breathing down their necks”. Such strange and scary use of language that has no practical effect. Could we please have a breakdown Mr Hussain as to which Health Boards top the list for early death / poor outcome for hips? Thirty years ago, we developed in Wales care protocols for improving these outcomes. It was called Hospital at Home. It has been very slowly picked up in other parts of the UK but much more vigorously in Europe. The blockage to… Read more »

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