125 DEXA scans already undertaken in the Western Isles

A total of 125 DEXA scans have already been carried out in the Western Isles since the new ‘gold standard’ fracture liaison service was launched around five months ago.

The service, officially launched by NHS Western Isles in November 2015, means that patients at risk of osteoporosis no longer have to travel to the mainland for scans.

At the heart of the new service is a new piece of equipment that is able to measure the strength of bones and identify patients with, or at risk of, osteoporosis, known as a Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scanner. It is anticipated that between 200 and 250 Western Isles patients a year will benefit from the new scanner.

Previously, all patients who needed a DEXA scan had to travel to Dingwall for assessment, which was often inconvenient for local patients. As osteoporosis is an increasing problem with an ageing population, NHS Western Isles took the decision to develop a new enhanced service and invest in this technology to allow patients to be appropriately assessed within the Western Isles. This improves the patient journey and increases the likelihood of patients agreeing to attend for the investigation.

The new service is run by the Radiology Department with support from colleagues in Physiotherapy, Falls and Rehabilitation Service, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Dietetics and Health Promotion.

Radiology Manager, Fiona McLean/explained: “We have had very positive feedback from patients in relation to the new service. Not only are the patients pleased that they don’t have to travel for their scan, they also welcome the fact that they now receive feedback straight after the DEXA scan.

“Following a scan, Radiographers also give advice on how to take bone strengthening medication, lifestyle factors such as alcohol or smoking which can lead to osteoporosis, and the importance of calcium and Vitamin B in the diet.

“There is also the follow up from having the DEXA scanning as Radiographers can refer patients to falls prevention, smoking cessation, dietetics etc as we consider the all round general health of each individual patient.”

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, commended staff for the early success of the new service.

“This new service is a major and welcome enhancement to the delivery of fracture prevention in the Western Isles. Patients have responded positively to the fact that they no longer need to travel for their appointment, and we are now able to locally identify patients who are at risk of developing a fracture, as well as to assess those who have already had a fracture, to allow appropriate treatment to be administered and lifestyle interventions put in place. Well done to the staff who are delivering such an important patient-centred service.”