Frailty assessment and acute frailty service provision in the UK: results of a national 'day of care' survey

Thomas Knight, Catherine Atkin, Finbarr C Martin, Chris Subbe, Mark Holland, Tim Cooksley, Daniel Lasserson

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BACKGROUND: The incorporation of acute frailty services into the acute care pathway is increasingly common. The prevalence and impact of acute frailty services in the UK are currently unclear.

METHODS: The Society for Acute Medicine Benchmarking Audit (SAMBA) is a day of care survey undertaken annually within the UK. SAMBA 2019 (SAMBA19) took place on Thursday 27th June 2019. A questionnaire was used to collect hospital and patient-level data on the structure and organisation of acute care delivery. SAMBA19 sought to establish the frequency of frailty assessment tool use and describe acute frailty services nationally. Hospitals were classified based on the presence of acute frailty services and metrics of performance compared.

RESULTS: A total of 3218 patients aged ≥70 admitted to 129 hospitals were recorded in SAMBA19. The use of frailty assessment tools was reported in 80 (62.0%) hospitals. The proportion of patients assessed for the presence of frailty in individual hospitals ranged from 2.2 to 100%. Bedded Acute Frailty Units were reported in 65 (50.3%) hospitals. There was significant variation in admission rates between hospitals. This was not explained by the presence of a frailty screening policy or presence of a dedicated frailty unit.

CONCLUSION: Two fifths of participating UK hospitals did not have a routine frailty screening policy: where this existed, rates of assessment for frailty were variable and most at-risk patients were not assessed. Responses to positive results were poorly defined. The provision of acute frailty services is variable throughout the UK. Improvement is needed for the aspirations of national policy to be fully realised.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2021. The Author(s).


  • Acute care
  • Acute frailty unit
  • Frailty
  • Same day emergency care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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