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Published on 07 February 2012 12:30 PM

Age Cymru has welcomed a report by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee into Hospital Catering and Patient Nutrition, published 7th February 2012.

The Committee found that relatives have been prevented from offering assistance to help patients to eat in some hospitals as a result of an incorrect application of the protected meal times policy.  The Committee recommended that Welsh Government issue guidance to the NHS stating that relatives should be allowed to help patients eat if required.

Age Cymru’s Policy Advisor, Amy Clifton says:

“We remain seriously concerned about malnutrition amongst older people in hospital.

“A number of recent reviews and reports have demonstrated current failings in tackling malnutrition and shown that urgent improvements are needed.

“The protected meal times policy was introduced in an attempt to ensure that meal times are not disturbed by medical staff wanting to perform health checks. The intention was clearly not to prevent patients receiving help and assistance with eating and drinking.

“The most common concerns we hear from older people and their families revolve around inadequate support at meal times and hospital staff being unaware of how much each patient has eaten. We regularly hear about food and drink being left out for patients but no help given with eating and drinking even when the need for this assistance has been discussed with nurses by family and doctors. With staff time at a premium, it is extremely important that relatives, friends, carers and trained volunteers are allowed to assist patients at meal times.

“Studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients admitted to hospital are undernourished and that many of these patients’ nutritional needs go unrecognised, leading to preventable complications and an increase in length of stay. In particular, older adults in long-stay care have been shown to be at particular nutritional risk.”

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact Iwan Rhys Roberts on 029 2043 1562, 07739 894 923, iwan.roberts@agecymru.org.uk

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For more information: Call Age Cymru Advice: 08000 223 444