Friday, 26 February 2010

The scandal continues

What would you do if you were a government minister and a report landed on your desk highlighting the scandal of malnutrition in hospitals? Would you do something immediately in order to reduce the estimated 50,000 deaths that are linked to malnutrition of hospital patients each year? Would you take immediate action in order to save lives? Or would you sit on the report for six months because it was so damning and might embarrass you or your colleagues?

That’s exactly what’s happened here in the UK with the delayed publication of a report by the Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board, a panel of medics and academics set up to monitor the problem. The report claims that 239 patients died because of malnutrition in English hospitals in 2007. The report comes a day after the publication of another report into 1,200 deaths that occurred through the neglect of patients at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.

The report’s authors said the figure of 239 patients represents less than 0.5 per cent of the total number who died in hospital from malnutrition. They added: “We know that malnutrition predisposes to disease, it delays recovery from illness and it increases mortality. It follows that the effect of malnutrition on mortality rates is substantially greater than the number reported to have died because of malnutrition.”

The report has been seized by the Tories who claim that if extrapolated, the number of hospital deaths resulting from malnutrition could be as high as 47,500 a year. Naturally, the government isn’t taking this lying down. Care services minister, Phil Hope, claims that only 239 people died from malnourishment in Britain’s hospitals in 2007.

So, that’s okay, then! Only 239 people died from lack of food or water in our hospitals in a single year. That’s a drop in the ocean. Nothing to worry about. Move along, nothing to see here. Get back to your plasma screens, people. The government will take care of this. Crisis, what crisis?

Meanwhile the scandal of dire nutritional standards in our hospitals continues while big businesses carry on making a fortune from supplying cook/chill muck to sloppy, cost-cutting, target-driven NHS trusts.

Read more on this at The Daily Telegraph


  1. Un-bloody-believable... but what the hell can we DO?? If them up there are incapable of doing the right thing and acting immediately, what hope have we down here?? It is SO OBVIOUS that food needs to be nutritious. If they can get THAT wrong, it makes one despair. Oh dear oh dear.
    Cameroon still on 2. x

  2. something has got to change in the NHS.

    I recently spent quite a few weeks visiting my partner of 10 years whilst she was in hospital, 5 days in AMU to find out why she was in such pain, 13 days on a ward (still in excrutiating pain) whilst they messed about with her medication trying to find a combination that worked (in the meantime, 2 different doctors were swopping and changing dose's and actual drugs because one of the didn't like one of the drugs)
    she had MRI scans, ultrasound, x-rays, at least 24 blood tests. end result-still in pain and the doctors were still scratching their heads...

    monday 15th feb, she was fine (as fine as you can be whilst in quite severe pain). 1.20pm tuesday, i get a call to come in as 'she has taken a turn for the worse'

    at 4pm on the 16th, she arrested, luckily the got her back and were about to move her to ICU when she arrested again, this time she wasn't so lucky. she was only 34.

    i was at her side when she died. everything that could be done was done for her, but the PM results were inconclusive, 'nothing found was enough to kill her' my thoughts are now of 'did a doctor make a mistake with the medication or dosage?'

    only hope the inquest will answer all of the unanswered questions... not just for me, but her family, her son and everyone who knew her.

    Rest in peace dawn, i'll always love you.

  3. I'm so sorry, Wayne. The same thing nearly happened to me. It's a lottery when it comes to diagnosis. The NHS seems to wait until illness turns critical and then it acts... sometimes too late. I hope you get answers, although nothing can replace the loss of a loved one. I'm sure you will be in the thoughts of all of us reading your post. Take care.

  4. These are both horrendous stories. I am a student nurse and have just been on placement for 4 weeks on an elderly care ward. The food is served in a way whereby it seems it's almost supposed to be unappetizing. One particular patient was refusing to eat everything but breakfast because 'It looks vile' I tried suggesting some of the better options to her but still no luck, most patients feel the same and the food is not tailored at all for elderly people who do tend to eat less anyway, so the wastage is horrendous to see at the end of every meal. I was also shocked by how patients' requests were totally ignored, there was one blind lady who needed to be fed, and did not eat red meat, however she was never asked and received meals like cottage pie pretty much every meal time, and even after I had stated that she will not eat red meat and wrote in down in her notes she still received it. One day all she had for lunch were 2 small trifles (yogurt pot sized) truth of the matter is that most of the patients lost weight over the period of time I worked on the ward....The way we feed people in hospital needs a complete overhaul. Food and drink is classed as a treatment, yet the nutritionists in the hospital seemed to be treated as 2nd class citizens. Its sad to see that people do not recognise how important good food is in order to aid recovery, meal times should be pleasant and food should be nourishing. Yet people tend to 'shut up and put up' with the crap food they get or they just don't eat it.

  5. The way elderly people are fed in hospital and hydrated amounts, in some instances, to institutionalised culling. The frail and elderly are allowed to wither away. In the wonderful government jargon, they're not economically active. I suppose this means they're a drain on society and not worth keeping alive. I can imagine in a a decade or two there won't even be any pretence.

  6. Is that your Xray on the one of the previous blogs? I think there is a danger of losing your anonymity if you post such personal details!

  7. That is my x-ray but only my consultant would recognise it and he knows who I am anyway :-)

  8. I may have said before that my daughter who cannot have anything with gluten in, was in hospital for a day for tests. Lunchtime all the staff could do was find her some cold, soggy chips! That was it! How is that nutritious for a 4 year old who is used to eating real food?

    Nutrition plays such a huge part in a patient's well being whilst being in a very stressful enviroment. It never ceases to amaze me that in my 20+ years of being associated with the NHS the quality of food has deteriorated significantly but more worryingly is the fact that nurses, qualified nurses, are just not always appreciating how important it is to get it right! When I did my Elderly care allocation (many years ago now!) the staff did not allow patients to have toast as 'they can't chew it' so it was marmalade sandwiches for brekkie! Also, tea came already full of milk! No good for those who don't take milk. Cetainly no option of lemon!!! I am appalled to know this sort of high handed ignorance still goes on today.

    Don't give up the fight XTM. SOmeday the powers that be will have to make the appropriate changes.

  9. Sarah - London1 March 2010 at 16:36

    Dear Wayne

    With sincere condolences on your loss - I have no words of comfort I'm afraid. Keep strong and healthy and take care.

    Best regards to all, Cats' Mother

  10. Dear Wayne, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you can come to terms with it in due course and get to the bottom of what happened and what else could possibly have been done.

    In my family we have not (yet) lost a life due to medical blunders but there is loss of fertility, eyesight and mobility which I lay squarely at the door of failing medical practitioners.