Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Sunday, 4 January 2009

Hospital to tackle malnutrition

Nutrition assistants
The team will help the most vulnerable patients

Older patients at Derby's hospitals who have difficulties eating and drinking are to receive assistance from a new team of helpers.

The five new ward nutrition assistants are part of a nine-month pilot scheme designed to reduce malnutrition and improve patient health.

They will work with vulnerable patients - encouraging them to eat properly and assessing their needs.

National figures show 40% of patients admitted to hospital are malnourished.

Slow eaters

Marie Mignott, a senior matron at Derby Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Older people are more vulnerable and quite often are a lot slower at eating so they need a lot of support even if it is something just sitting down and prompting them to eat and drink something.

"The nursing staff do not always have the time to do that."

"Good nutrition can lead to a better outcome for patients for example improved outcome from illness, increased wound healing, energy intake and shorter stay in a hospital environment," she added.

The assistants will also monitor patients' weight and supply nutrition supplements when necessary.

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