Nurses need training in frailty management if the NHS Long Term Plan is to succeed

GPs alone cannot carry out frailty management, says leading nurse

GPs alone cannot carry out frailty management, says leading nurse

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Nurses need training to identify and manage frailty if the NHS goals to improve older people’s health and reduce hospital admissions are to be met.

This assessment was made by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust consultant nurse for older people Nicky Hayes in response to the publication of the NHS's long-term plan.

The plan, which sets out the vision for the NHS over the next ten years, suggests a more proactive approach should be taken to identify moderate frailty earlier in the community.

The Electronic Frailty Index (EFI) is used in GP practices to identify people aged 65 and over with severe frailty, based on a series of cumulative factors, including clinical signs, symptoms, diseases and disabilities.

It will now be used more widely to detect frailty in the community and provide targeted support to those in need.

Proactive approach

Welcoming the move, Ms Hayes, who is also consultant editor of Nursing Older People, said: ‘It is an appropriate population-based plan, which will ensure that many more older people are offered a proactive approach to their healthcare by the primary care team.’

It is part of the plan’s overall aim to maintain older people’s independence by detecting and intervening earlier to treat their physical, including musculoskeletal, and mental health needs.

This would prevent falls and reduce hospital interventions, the plan says.

Nicky Hayes

However, Ms Hayes warned that the plan’s goals were at risk unless the workforce received a parallel investment equipping them with the skills to identify and manage frailty.

‘GPs alone will not be able to carry out frailty management, therefore resources will be needed to develop the non-medical workforce,’ she said.

‘There has been chronic under-investment so far in this area.’

Ms Hayes said a ‘substantial proportion’ of the £50 million workforce development budget for 2019-20 announced by Health Education England in December needs to be directed towards such training.


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