Survey on malnutrition25th September 2007
A new study is to be carried out to establish how many people are malnourished when they enter hospitals and care homes.
The three-day investigation by nutrition charity Bapen will assess more than 500 institutions across the UK and screen all patients who are admitted during the study period.
The survey by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (Bapen), the first of its kind in the UK, has been backed by the Department of Health. It hopes the findings will give hospitals and care homes a clearer idea of the scale of malnourishment in the community.
A study carried out 10 years ago found 30% of patients in hospitals and care homes, amounting to three million people, were clinically malnourished. Malnourished people stay in hospital longer and are more prone to infection.
The majority of institutions taking part (75%) are in England, 12% in Scotland and the rest in Wales and Northern Ireland.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines recommending all new patients be routinely screened on admission to hospitals and care homes.
But charities complain malnutrition remains prevalent because policy is not necessarily being put into practice.
As many as 10% of people aged over 65 are malnourished but that rises to 60% when it comes to elderly people in hospital.
A spokeswoman for Help The Aged said: â€œUntil we know the extent of the problem, hospitals and care homes won't have the evidence they need to care for malnourished older patients that are admitted.â€?
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