Friday, 2 November 2007

Food for thought.

According to the government older patients in hospitals should be weighed weekly to make sure they are not becoming malnourished during their stay.

A survey by the charity Age Concern found last year that 60% of older patients were at risk of becoming malnourished because they did not get food they wanted to eat or were denied assistance with eating and drinking. The charity found people over 80 were five times more likely to be malnourished than those under 50.

Questions have arisen about the levels of training on nutritional issues provided for NHS staff and indeed the diligence of nurses when feeding vulnerable patients.

In an attempt to resolve the situation a nutrition training programme for all qualified NHS and social care will be introduced next May and the subject will be included in the curriculum for trainee nurses next September.

Senior Health Orc Ivan Lewis has stated that "Weight loss is sometimes wrongly explained away as being due to illness when in reality it is because of a failure to put nutrition at the heart of people's care."

He added that “The vast majority of nurses do their best in very difficult circumstances, but there are some examples of sheer neglect and malpractice that should be subject to disciplinary action”.

I assume that the drive to improve quality led by Lloyd Grossman in 2002 hasn’t been a total triumph. Which 80 year old could resist the delights of a "navarin of lamb with couscous", "roast cod and garlic potato puree, and leek and mushroom sauce" and "salad of spinach, tuna, egg and mung beans".

‘Can’t I have a nice lamb chop dear?’

‘No, you will have your Chicken Tagine with brown rice and like it’.

More seriously though. I don’t think that anyone would ever suggest that there isn’t an problem to be addressed here. But the implication is that it’s down to the Nurses (again) and God help them if they don’t feed Mrs. Ecclebum her navarin of lamb. Even if Mrs. Ecclebum just doesn’t feel that hungry because she is poorly or the food is just ghastly.

If a Nurse was found to be guilty of ‘sheer neglect and malpractice’ then his or her employers will already be disciplining and possibly dismissing them anyway. You don’t need an insect at the DoH to instigate measures to allow that to happen.

It seem to be yet another example of a problem identified, now who can ministers make accountable ensuring that it isn’t themselves. They’ve only had ten years and a quite a few billion pounds to get this sort of thing right.

Perhaps if everyone wasn’t spending all of their time shuffling beds and people around in an attempt to meet targets and spending hours completing the piles of paperwork to prove to idiots like Lewis that the 'reforms are working' maybe Mrs. Egglebum might be getting a little more attention.

Attention that the vast majority of Nurses came into the profession to give.

‘Egg and chips? Oh that would be lovely.’


Mountjoy said...

I'm sure there's an Egg & Chips Form (10 pages) in the NHS. After all, that might impede the obesity targets...

Julie said...

I've seen trays of food (and cups of tea) left at the foot of immobile elderly patients' beds, where they just can't reach them - and where it should be obvious they can't reach them. After twenty minutes someone comes round to clear the trays away with a jovial,'Haven't bothered with your food again, (whoever)?' - and it's whisked away before the poor dear can say a word. It would be easier if it was just one problem with one solution, but it isn't - some nursing staff just don't seem to care very much for the welfare of the patients.