12 Oct 2020

On Wednesday 7th October, as part of the activities for Malnutrition Awareness Week 2020, the BDA joined colleagues from British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) and the Malnutrition Task Force (MTF) for a “virtual drop in” event with UK parliamentarians. The event was a first for many of those involved, and was a fantastic opportunity to improve understanding of malnutrition and the role of dietitians.

The BDA was represented by our Chair, Caroline Bovey, with Alison Smith representing the Older People Specialist Group and Ailsa Kennedy representing the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Group. They spoke to over a dozen MPs and Peers and received very positive feedback, with numerous promises of further support.

Caroline was impressed by parliamentarian’s enthusiasm; “It was a really positive meeting, with everyone I spoke with promising further support, such as arranging meetings with local public health teams, tabling Early Day Motions and both written and oral questions in the house on the topic. It was really encouraging to know that we have some more champions on this issue in parliament. It was also reassuring to hear that a number of the MPs are very well informed about malnutrition and eager to help us to progress our work going forward”

Ailsa found that some were able to speak from personal experience; “One member of the Lords, an older gentleman himself, told us about his personal experience with gallstones, pancreatitis and bowel cancer, and the difficulties he had with appetite and nutritional supplements. It was really encouraging to that he really benefited from treatment with a primary care dietitian to improve his dietary intake and aid his recovery. He even promised to share the malnutrition task force screening tool with all his fellow peers!”

The opportunity to improve understanding was a valuable one for Alison; “Not all the politicians were as aware of the issue of malnutrition as others, but all were keen to learn more, and were in some cases quite shocked by the impact it has, especially on older people. It was good to be able to work alongside colleagues from BAPEN as we were able to draw on our different experience in acute and community settings.”

The BDA head office team will now be working with colleagues from BAPEN and MTF to engage further with all those present. We will also be aiming to share the findings from the Malnutrition Screening event taking place with October with parliamentarians later in the year. Make sure you are taking part here.
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