Friday, 22 January 2010

A national scandal

A report obtained by the Conservatives has unveiled that more people leave hospital malnourished than those who enter the care of our hallowed health service. The latest figures state that of the 175,000 people entering hospital last year suffering from malnutrition, a shameful 185,000 left hospital undernourished, an increase of 10,000.

Now putting aside the fact that people who are malnourished shouldn't really be released from hospital, what do those figures mean? Well, either none of the 175,000 managed to get better nourishment during their stay (unlikely) or more likely, many more people than suspected actually develop malnutrition during their stay. Some 10,000 patients develop malnutrition in hospital having entered the system in a perfectly well nourished state.

I can well believe those figures. I entered hospital a fairly fit 47-year-old and left having lost 15% of my bodyweight, calcium deficient and in really poor general health. What chance do the frail and elderly stand? The food served is nutritionally questionable at best, but served in the unique way that only the NHS knows how. Mealtimes are a total turnoff. Add to that the lack of attention and lack of time for nurses to attend to those who find it difficult to feed themselves, and it's little wonder that we are looking at nothing short of a national scandal.

The time is over for celebrity chefs, reports and all the other time-wasting crap that usually passes for action in the NHS. The time has come for sanctions to be applied to health care trusts that starve and neglect their patients. Let's say £1000 off the Chief Exec's bonus for every malnourished patient discovered. That should concentrate a few minds. And if any trusts need some help on how to improve their food and how to encourage patients to eat it, then see me afterwards. Usual fat-cat consultancy rates apply!


  1. Good afternoon ETM!

    Well put. When my late mother was in JR in Oxford (where she died), she was undoubtedly in very poor health. However, she could not feed herself due to said health problems - she could not hold a mug of tea and asked (when I was with her in the hospital but away from her bedside organising some flowers) for her tea to be in a small cup - the reply was rude and obscene, treating her like a stupid, snobby old lady wanting "cup and saucer" - the orderly was then subjected to some abuse from me as I rounded on her. My poor Mum regularly ended up with tea all down her front and, unable to change her own gown, would stay this way until a family member arrived to sort. This was not the cause of her demise but most certainly did not help. I guess I should get to the point this afternoon - and that is respect for those unable to assist themselves would be a fine start together with suitable assistance. Family and friends cannot be at a bedside 24/7.

    Anyway - best to you and yours and the leg!

    Miaouws and purrs to Whisky from the Chelsea Gang on this rainy Prawn Friday!

    Cats' Mother

  2. Hi XTM.... Hows the leg doing ?

    As I said before on another post, the only way the government is going to find out how bad the situation of the hospital meals scandal, is to have a bogus patient in hospital for a week sampling the culinary delights on offer.

    Every hospital should have a bogus patient, they can take notes and report their findings, take digital camera pictures as well.


  3. Completely agree that it's a scandal - you're doing a great job exposing it - but I have to admit I had difficulty concentrating on your words because of that picture - is that RAW CHICKEN served along with bullet peas?? Gawd!

  4. That photo is of some bacon served up to me in hospital along with some mashed potato and peas. Inedible!

  5. i totally agree, I have seen so much money wasted. Today I spotted a glossy book on the coffee table at work telling gp's how to interpret the results of the patient satisfaction surveys that are carried out. It must have cost a small fortune, and is a total waste of money - a brief summary on e mail would have cost nothing, and might have been read as well as saving trees and all for a patronising book which will either gather dust, be used as a coffee mat, or end up being 'filed' in the bin!!! agghhhh. deep breath, ah that is better!

  6. What will it take to make the worm turn, the Brits are an uncomplaining nation, but it's about time they defended themselves, or is it as I suspect that the Brits have become a minority in their own country and are being governed by either Karl Marks or muslims beliefs which combined with the EU (which is mostly influenced by the French) are determined to destroy this once Great country.
    What will it take for the Great to be reintroduced to Britain.
    Gripe over, so pleased to hear your leg is on the mend albeit slowly.
    Just keep up the hassle.

  7. Ipersonally hope your leg drops off so you can sojourn at the NHS pleasure.
    Only joking TM, think the crusade is a running a little thin??

  8. Bacon!!! I tried to guess what it was but got no further than raw chicken or mashed prawns.

    I don't think the crusade is running a little thin but government works slowly if at all. There has been increased press coverage, or perhaps this is just selective perception - I do think that the blog has made a difference, however.

    Keep at it TM. You're needed and so are you legs. Wanting them to drop off is NOT ON Brian, even said in jest!


  9. TM, while I understand you have to have your other rants, I've felt all along that this is your mission and the one which has a huge following. Love the mystery shopper idea, Anonymous. Never heard of Karl Marks, other anonymous

  10. Chris from Melbourne24 January 2010 at 05:43

    Re: the photo:

    M'lud in the case arraigned before you of the People v the NHS, I place before you exhibit A from the evidence bag, and, M'lud I rest my case.
    Gavel bangs three times.
    Clear the Court, Clear the Court!

    ( Sorry, a bit of antipodean troppo-ness creeping in )

    A truly disgraceful report. I suspect that it is much the same here.
    Those of us with an interest in this could all 'do a Brian' and become apathetic about it.
    To hell with that.More to life than the Football ( or in my case AFL ) score.
    It all takes time,but the Pollies and the three piece suit mob ( trust us, we're from the Government ) have to be accountable in the end.
    Besides I havent had so much fun reading the comments and wisdom on this blog since...err
    the local Labour MP got rolled for pre-selection.

    To Cats Mother.Your thoughtful post struck a raw nerve with me, regarding the way some of the orderlies/aides treat patients, in particular the frail elderly.When my Mum was in Hospital early last year on one occasion they wanted to clear up in a hurry after the evening meal, so started collecting trays within a few minutes, saying 'Finished?' whilst literally removing the knifes and forks from patients hands.

    XTM and co, hope all is well and progressing to plan, all the best
    Chris of Melbourne

  11. Pepsi' Mother25 January 2010 at 01:36

    Dear XTM et al

    Go XTM! The crusade is achieving something. Today - Simple effective measures such as nutritious, and tasty food and having staff or volunteers to assist those who can't feed themselves Tomorrow - the universe!

    Please please keep this blog up, you are making a difference and that is no small achievement by any measure.

    Keep well and strong,

    Pepsi' Mother

  12. So what's the solution? What are the Conservatives planning to do about it?

  13. And take that £1000 fine and use it to employ and train caring staff who's aim it can be to assist and feed those patients who need help and encouragement. Where I work staffing levels are currently running at 6 nurses ! 6 for a ward which has 28 patients and up to 20 of those regularly need help with all activities of daily living thats not even factoring in time for the complex acute medical/nursing needs such as IV's Medication Bloods Nasogastric feeds etc. Do the math? Not enough hours in a day and not enough arms and legs. Its not rocket science. I frequently wish we could have a visit from a time and motion expert because it just doesn't compute. Nutrition is just one area where patients are regularly short changed. Most patients are seen by a nutrionist but what use is that if there is no one to follow through with their instructions.

    And often the 'rush' to take away food isn't the fault of the carers its down to the kitchen who won't take the entire trolly if its put outside after a certain time and no doubt they too are under pressure to have them back by a certain dead line. Its all just push push push. Ask most of the staff at ground level and they will tell you whats wrong with the NHS.

  14. PS I'm old enough to have worked for the NHS under a Tory Government and believe me it was no prettier then. In fact wasn't it the Torys who brought in Chief Exec's from Tesco and the like? When patients and people became commodities. So don't for a minute imagine they will have the answers.

  15. Nutrition in hospital will never improve until more people like you, XTM, start to make waves.
    I have nursed on wards where I have had 30 patients and 3 nurses! A busy ward with lots of frail and vulnerable patients. It is so hard when the pressure is on to get the paperwork done to find the time to assist patients who require it but, no matter how sister moaned, I put my patients first. Usually staying after my shift finished to complete the paperwork!!!

    It makes me so cross that the nutrition of patients is no longer a priority for trained staff in most places.

    I have seen some wonderful nurses in action in recent years but they are the exeption!

    Oh, and, what about the chap with the broken neck who is flat on his back unable to move who gets given soup in a mug and left to get on with it???? Why did he lose so much weight during his stay? Because no one bothered to help a young, fit man who was immobilised to access food!

    Keep up the blogging and keep this issue up there in the public view!

  16. Well what can I say other than to be in total agreement with you.
    I had a broken femur and the stay in hospital was not one I would recomend.
    It was hard enough sleeping with one eye to make sure nobody snuck up to your bed and drew lines all over it...apparently it was due for amputation (I kid you not) the food was something you wouldn't let a farmer feed his pigs with including raw seared chicken...the catering managers name in his words... Im Dempsey and I've come to make peace says he...I then contacted the local press who hounded him out of a job... now thats what I call action, and by todays standards they were a lot better than we have today... keep it up XTM..should make you the catering manager of all nhs food outlets.

  17. I read this today in the Daily Mail... disgrace...!!!


  18. It is easy to criticise and bash. I do not believe for a minute that the Torys will be able to improve things the slightest.

  19. Anonymous at 3.59.
    Why not?
    In any case for me it's not an issue along Party Lines and the associated BS. It's a problem that must be solved on behalf of us punters. The story is 'MAKE THINGS HAPPEN'.
    regardless of any political waffle.


  20. Theo is absolutely right. This is a matter beyond party politics. I don't care if the devil, Hitler and Stalin sit down to solve this so long as it's fixed. I will never forget the things I saw during my six months in hospital. It's a scandal pure and simple!