GP Patient Survey: Experiences of patients living with frailty

Tom Rossington looks at data from the 2019 GP Patient Survey (GPPS) and what the survey tells us about the experiences of patients living with frailty.

The author(s)

  • Tom Rossington Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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According to GPPS data, three percent of patients are living with frailty. In this context; patients are considered to be living with frailty if they had experienced at least two of the following:

  • Problems with physical mobility, such as getting about their home
  • Two or more falls that needed medical attention
  • Feeling isolated from others

The NHS ‘Five Year Forward View’ highlights frailty as one of three pressing challenges faced by the NHS. With this in mind, GPPS data can help us understand the health of patients living with frailty, how they manage their conditions, and their experiences of making and attending their appointments.

Patients living with frailty were more likely to have a long-term health condition, disability or illness (95% compared with 52% of all patients). Patients with multiple long-term conditions, disabilities or illnesses were also more likely to have experienced frailty, for example, two percent of patients with one long-term health condition, disability or illness were living with frailty, compared with 52% of patients living with eight or more. Those living with frailty were also more likely to be taking five or more medications on a regular basis (64% compared with 19% of all patients).

Among patients with long-term conditions, those living with frailty were less confident in managing any issues arising from their condition(s) (45% compared with 84% of all patients with a long-term condition). Patients living with frailty were also less likely to have received enough support from local services or organisations to help manage their condition(s) (61% and 79% respectively).

When accessing services, patients living with frailty were less likely to describe their experience of making a general practice appointment as good (58%), compared with all patients (68%). They were also more likely to be concerned about their health when making an appointment than all patients (89% compared with 67% respectively).

Patients living with frailty tended to report a poorer experience with healthcare professionals at their last appointment. For example, they were less likely to feel their mental health needs were recognised and/or understood. This difference in experience between patients with frailty and all patients was evident  across all ages, but greatest in younger  age groups; for example, 64% of 16-24 year old patients living with frailty reported that their mental health needs had been recognised and/or understood, compared with 84% of all patients the same age.

A similar pattern is evident in terms of overall experience of the GP practice. Those living with frailty were less positive but with the biggest difference occurring in younger age groups: 64% of patients aged 16-24 living with frailty described their overall experience of their GP practice as good, compared with 78% of all patients the same age.

Further analysis

GPPS provides a rich source of information on patient experiences of their GP practice. You can access and analyse the results by going to https://www.gp-patient.co.uk or email the team.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI administers GPPS on behalf of NHS England. Approximately 2.32 million questionnaires were sent out nationally, and 770,512 were returned completed between January and March 2019. This represents a response rate of 33.1%. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population. Read further technical information about how the survey works here.

For more information about the survey, and to access the data see https://www.gp-patient.co.uk

The author(s)

  • Tom Rossington Ipsos Public Affairs, UK

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