Improving Health and Wellbeing by tackling Malnutrition

The experience of Stafford demonstrates the importance of constantly ensuring patients receive proper food and nutrition. Dietitians have important part to play as a key part of the team of experts to support this.

Out of 100 hospitals inspected by the Care Quality Commission as part of the dignity and nutrition inspections some of the important issues identified in those hospitals where problems were identified included:

  • Patients not being given the help they needed to eat.
  • Patients being interrupted during meals and having to leave their food unfinished.

Source/Reference:

Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, February 2013

http://www.cqc.org.uk/public/news/national-report-dignity-and-nutrition-review-published

Malnutrition is an under-recognised and undertreated health problem to the detriment and negative outcomes for individuals which affects three million people at any one time in the UK being malnourished. It is estimated to cost the UK health economy £13bn per annum. Improving the identification and treatment of malnutrition is estimated to have the third highest potential to deliver cost savings in the NHS and improve quality of lives.

NICE Cost Saving Guidance (2012) places cost savings associated with implementation of Nutrition Support for Adults (Clinical Guideline 32) as a large potential cost saving to the NHS. If this guidance was fully implemented it should result in better nourished patients, it should lead to reduced complications such as secondary chest infections, pressure ulcers, wound abscesses and cardiac failure and improved health and wellbeing.

Conservative estimates of reduced admissions and reduced length of stay for admitted patients, reduced demand for GP and outpatient appointments indicate significant savings are possible, with even a 10-20% saving of £13billion representing huge savings in addition to improved health outcomes for patients.

Nutrition and hydration were also identified in the eight ‘high impact’ actions 6 and have been a key focus in the delivery of harm free care.

In the Department of Health QIPP Safe Care Work Stream programme, recognition that improvements in nutrition and hydration care will have substantial positive impact on all 4 key harms.

Source/Reference:

Malnutrition Matters: Meeting quality standards in nutritional care: A toolkit for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Providers in England. British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) December 2012.

Nutrition and hydration are priority areas within current strategies e.g. dementia care and NHS Kidney Care.

Source/Reference:

Malnutrition Matters: Meeting quality standards in nutritional care: A toolkit for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Providers in England. British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) December 2012.