NURSING chiefs have pledged to reduce the number of ‘slips and trips’ suffered by elderly patients in the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals – after figures suggested the number of serious accidents doubled in the last five years.

There were 21 patient falls resulting in ‘moderate to severe’ harm in 2009/10. The number has risen every year, reaching 42 in 2013/14, according to data obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph through Freedom of Information laws.

Chris Pearson, chief nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the increase was partly due to improved reporting and awareness of falls, but said it was a ‘serious issue’ and work was being undertaken with clinicians to try and reduce the number of serious falls.

Last year NHS watchdog, NICE, said the NHS should do more to prevent falls in hospitals as many are entirely avoidable, especially among high risk patients such as pensioners and those with dementia, stroke or vision or hearing problems.

It said doctors and nurses should carry out falls risk assessments, reassure patients that they can ask for assistance, and ensure they get a timely response to bedside call bells.

Injuries from falls are the leading cause of death in people over the age of 75 in the UK.

Mrs Pearson said: “The reporting of falls has increased and this is in relation to raised awareness of falls which has resulted in better reporting of incidents of this nature.

“Additionally, the coming together of community and acute services has resulted in reporting of falls that happen in a patient’s home.

“We are increasing our reporting and the increase could be as a result of this.

“We take the incidence of falls with harms seriously and aim to reduce the incidence of falls with harms within the year by 15 per cent.

“We are introducing a falls quality improvement collaborative to work with clinicians in understanding the incidence of falls and how we can improve.”