Dozens of patients died within 30 days of breaking their hip after being admitted to Royal Hampshire County Hospital in one year, an audit has found.

Royal Hampshire County Hospital dealt with 248 hip fractures during 2018, according to the latest annual National Hip Fracture Database report by the Royal College of Physicians.

Of these, 24 people died within 30 days of sustaining the fracture.

At 9.7 per cent, the hospital had one of the highest mortality rates of the 177 trauma units across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the average rate was 6.1 per cent.

Hip fractures are the most common reason for admission to orthopaedic wards, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, mainly affecting older people who may suffer from osteoporosis, or weak bones. Those who break their hip are at increased risk of suffering potentially fatal complications, including infections, pneumonia, and cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure or strokes.

The National Hip Fracture Database was established in 2007, and examines the quality of patient care across hospitals using a series of key performance indicators.

Since then, deaths within a month of a hip fracture have halved, with around 4,000 people dying during 2018.

However, the report states that “only a minority of patients will completely regain their previous abilities”, with increased dependency and difficulty walking meaning a quarter will need long-term care.

Hip fractures incur an annual cost of over £1 billion to health and social services – 1 per cent of the NHS budget.

Of the patients treated at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, 84 (34 per cent) had not been discharged to their home or original residence within 120 days of their injury.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this was the case for 31 per cent of patients.

The report’s authors found “enormous variation” in performance across hospitals in some areas of care.

NICE recommends that patients who need surgery receive their operation either on the day they arrive at hospital or on the following day, to ensure people recover quickly and regain their mobility.

At Royal Hampshire County Hospital, 31 patients (13 per cent) had to wait longer than this.

There were also delays for some patients when being admitted to hospital, with only 31 per cent of patients admitted to an orthopaedic ward within the target four hours.

And of those who underwent surgery, only 70 per cent had one of the operations recommended by NICE guidance, with the rest undergoing a procedure that is not the one recommended for their type of fracture.

Altogether, the report found Royal Hampshire County Hospital only met best practice criteria in 76 per cent of cases.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said it was “absolutely essential” that high-risk patients get access to high-quality care wherever they live.

She said: “Falls are a serious threat to older people’s health, wellbeing and independence, causing pain, distress and loss of confidence.

“However, despite having serious consequences, falls in later life are often dismissed as an inevitable part of growing older, when the reality is many of them are preventable.

“The quality of falls prevention services still varies a great deal from place to place. Preventing falls and hip fractures must be a priority for our health service.”

Julie Maskery, chief operating officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This data was collected during 2018 and since then we have worked hard to improve the care we provide for patients who have broken their hip at Royal Hampshire County Hospital. By November 2019, the annual 30-day mortality rate at Winchester hospital had improved to 2.9 per cent, well below the national average, and the hospital was also one of the top performers in the National Hip Database’s best practice tariff, which takes a wide range of measures into account.

“We are also currently testing a significant change to the way that we deliver orthopaedic services across the trust, which we expect to result in fewer delays, quicker recovery and improved outcomes. By moving all emergency orthopaedic surgery to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, we are now able to carry out emergency surgery seven days a week, while we have also opened The Firs, a new unit at Basingstoke hospital specifically aimed at enhancing the recovery of this group of patients.

“We are keen to hear feedback and views on our new way of delivering orthopaedic services. Visit to find out more and have your say.”