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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Malnutrition 'crisis' in UK hospitals
Arm and drip
Many patients are malnourished
Up to four in 10 people admitted to hospital in the UK are undernourished, says a report urging doctors to do more to help them.

The Royal College of Physicians report, published on Tuesday, says it is a doctors' responsibility to make sure their patients are properly nourished.

Malnourished patients are more prone to infection - and take longer to recover from hospital treatment and be discharged.

While hospital food is often described as unappetising, the patient who suffer are often those who need help to eat, but are not getting it.


The report draws attention to the importance of identifying and treating the nutritional need of our patients

Professor Peter Kopelman, Royal College of Physicians
The report calls for this aspect of patient health to be included in doctors' training.

It wants "nutritional screening" of all patients to be standard practice in all NHS hospitals.

There are also calls for hospitals to set up special groups to keep a check on nutrition quality.

Priority

Professor Peter Kopelman, chair of the Royal College of Physicians working party, said: "Too often nutritional status and nutritional management are overlooked in clinical practice to the detriment of patient care.

Loyd Grossman headed the government's food drive
"The report draws attention to the importance of identifying and treating the nutritional need of our patients.

"Such interventions involve a team approach that be necessity includes health professionals, NHS managers and those involved in health education and training."

The experts also call for GPs and care home managers to be vigilant against nutrition problems among their patients and residents.

The government has revamped NHS hospital menus in a bid to make them more appetising.

Leading chefs were recruited to devise tasty new dishes which could be made on limited NHS budgets.

However, many hospitals were unable to meet targets to bring in the new menus earlier this year - and there were complaints from both catering chiefs and patients about their content.

Liberal Democrat elderly spokesman Paul Burstow MP said: "It is a national disgrace that the fourth richest nation in the world allows any patients to be sent home from hospital malnourished.

"Treatable malnutrition has no place in a modern and dependable health service.

"Nutrition levels can play a crucial part in a persons recovery in hospital and recuperation after they are discharged.

"Ministers will point to their Better Hospital Food Programme, but this is little more than a gimmick."

See also:

29 Dec 00 | Health
08 May 01 | Health
18 Feb 02 | NHS Reform
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