Monday, 6 December 2010


According to the UK Patients' Association, the number of elderly people leaving NHS hospitals in a malnourished state has doubled in just three years. Apparently, nurses are too busy to make sure that patients eat their food. Some 13,500 frail patients developed malnutrition in our nation's hospitals last year. How on earth nurses and doctors can allow this to continue is beyond my comprehension.

There's a lot of talk about serving food for vulnerable patients on so-called 'red trays' but the evidence I have collected so far on my research into the scandal of inadequate NHS food, tells me this is not always effective. Nurses may well claim they are too busy to care but I've personally experienced sloppy nursing, staff gossiping around the nursing station and a general couldn't-care-less attitude displayed by some healthcare workers.

No one on the wards of our hospitals appears to be in overall charge and more time is spent on form-filling and the collection of box-ticking statistics than it is on general healthcare. Many times when I was unable to move I was just tossed a cloth and a bowl of water and told to wash myself. Hardly ever was there sufficient time or care to help me maintain a reasonable level of human dignity. It's an absolute disgrace and made me really, really angry.

If I can do something about this scandal by publicising the problem here then I will. At least something good may come out of my experience. If any readers of my blog would like to email me stories or evidence of neglect and inadequate food then I'll do my best to publish it here.

It's time we stopped this stain on the reputation of the NHS.


  1. Well said! It's easy to laugh at the atrocious food and quite right to jeer at the jobsworths and PC brigade but it's not funny when vulnerable people get malnutrition or don't get the care that they deserve and which they (and we!) have paid for.

    Good luck with the campaigning.

  2. When I was post-operative from a knee-replacement in April 2009 there was an elderly diabetic lady in the opposite bed who had her hip replaced. Her food was left out of her reach and once it was cold a nurse said 'didnt want this then?' and removed the tray. I called the nurse and told her that the lady was an insulin dependent diabetic who was confused post-operatively and she shrugged and still took the tray away. I told her family when they came to visit and they queried it with the senior nurse on the ward who defended herself and said the lady had been fed. As I was incapable of getting out of bed at that point there was nothing more I could do - I was very upset. So much so that it still upsets me today that later that evening the lady fell out of bed and maybe would not have done if her blood sugar had been level.

  3. I boils my blood and irks me to no end when I hear of blatant neglect on the part of health care workers, no matter what their job designation. Treating someone like they are an inanimate object or inconvenience is just wrong. It is unethical and a heinous crime. People are people no matter their disposition, ability to pay or vulnerability. It won't kill someone to make sure a tray is within reach or that someone's dignity is kept intact.

    I flied a complaint against an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist because he treated me as though I had no nerve endings or right to be treated humanely. He shoved an instrument up each of my nostrils without warning and never once apologized for hurting me. He actually looked at me incredulously, like he had no concept that it was unethical to ambush patients with an invasive procedure! I never even saw the endoscope, even after he took it out. Dork. I also informed my family doctor's nurse that her standing at the foot of the examination table watching me bum down to the edge for an intimate examination was inappropriate (we had a standoff at the time, I told her I'd move down when she was beside me. When she didn't move & my doctor didn't intervene (he was standing right there-maybe he didn't realize what was happening) I complied and she "guided me like I was a semi-tractor-trailer unit backing up", yeah, like what every woman appreciates is to be treated like a oversized vehicle). She got all defensive and when she left (I did it in the examining room the next week) she stated "whatever" in a dismissing snotty voice! I then heard through the door her telling my doctor, and laughed at me! I was very upset and when my doctor came in I let him have it about her. He told me to not let it bother me (he is right, because it is my choice) but he never chastised me for calling her Nurse Ratched and sourpuss. I don't know if he talked to her but the next time I was in she didn't say a word to me. She made it very clear how she looked at me that I was not a favourite of hers. So I guess we have mutual feelings toward each other. If I have to have another examination like that I'd take a stranger from the waiting room over having her in the room. Here it is now procedure to have another person in the examination room during intimate examinations (I wonder if men get to have an audience as well during prostate exams?).

    TM, you go and nail them. I know there is a shortage of medical personnel and they're stretched but Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton et al would roll in their graves if they met some of these incompassionate nurses & doctors. Most over here are doing the best they can but those few who kill people with neglect should be shot. (oh, was that my out loud voice?)

    Libby the "don't mess with me" Canadian

  4. xtm, please keep up your awareness campaign. what is the point of developing amazing new technologies and having wonderful buildings and drugs if you end up dying from malnutrition, starvation and end up wasting in a bed full of urine and should always be a priority to ensure your patients are fed, watered, and CARED for...if you don't want to do these basic things, don't be a nurse! there are plenty of other jobs you can do!