Hospital food has always been the butt of many jokes. However it seems that many of Britain’s hospital patients are at serious risk from malnourishment. Nine out of ten nurses have admitted they don’t have time to ensure that patients eat properly. Elderly patients are particularly affected. The charity Age Concern stressed that, “Food and help with eating it should be recognised as an essential part of care.” The charity is launching a campaign, “Hungry to be Heard”, to raise awareness of the problem and wants hospitals to introduce a “red tray” system, whereby more vulnerable patients have their meals served on red trays so that staff can easily spot who needs help at mealtimes.
Malnourished patients are more prone to infection and take longer to recover from operations and hospital treatment. It is a scandal and a disgrace that patients, particularly the elderly in our community should be treated this way. The blame doesn’t lie with the nursing staff who do their best to work with the limited time and resources available. The real culprit is our cash-strapped healthcare system. Some of these patients, particularly the elderly and infirm have worked hard and paid taxes all their lives. Surely they deserve to get something back. Instead the system is failing them badly. A Department of Health spokesman stated that a summit to discuss how best to care for the needs of the elderly, is planned for the Autumn.
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