It has been revealed that three patients a day are dying from starvation or thirst or choking on NHS wards.
In 2017, 936 hospital deaths were attributed to one of those factors, with starvation the primary cause of death in 74 cases.The Office for National Statistics data reveals malnutrition deaths are 34% higher than in 2013.
Over-stretched nurses are simply too busy to check if the sick and elderly are getting nourishment.
However, Myer Glickman from the ONS says the data is not conclusive proof of poor NHS care. He said:“There has been an increase over time in the number of patients admitted to hospital while already malnourished. This may suggest that malnutrition is increasingly prevalent in the community, possibly associated with the ageing of the population and an increase in long-term chronic diseases.”
Yet campaigners say too many vulnerable people are being “forgotten to death” in NHS hospitals and urgent action is needed to identify and treat malnutrition.
In a recent pilot scheme the number of deaths among elderly patients with a fractured hip was halved by simply having someone to feed them. Six NHS trusts employed a junior staff member for each ward tasked with getting 500 extra calories a day into them. More survived and the patients spent an average five days less in hospital, unblocking beds and saving more than £1,400 each.
It wasn’t just the calories though – it helped keep their morale up.
Because, as one consultant said: “Food is a very, very cheap drug that’s extremely powerful.”
Source: Mirror, 4 February 2020