Nutrition fears over hospital food care

Older people face a greater risk of malnutrition because nine out of 10 nurses do not have time to help hospital patients who need help with eating, Age Concern has said.

Launching a campaign to improve food standards in hospital, the charity said NHS trusts were not meeting national standards on
patients’ nutritional needs.

This was despite the fact that only 11 of 570 trusts admitted this year that they had not complied with the standard. This prompted Age Concern to question the Healthcare Commission’s use of self-assessments to judge trusts’ performance.

Age Concern said that 40 per cent of older people arrived in hospital malnourished, but 60 per cent of older patients were at risk of becoming malnourished, or having their situation worsen, in hospital.

It called for older people to be assessed for malnutrition on admission to hospital and have regular subsequent checks, and for the Healthcare Commission to compare the recent experience of patients with trusts’ self-assessments.

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