10 Oct 2019

BSNA is calling for the appointment of a clinical director for nutrition within NHS England to provide leadership across all settings and for all patients at risk of malnutrition

The British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA) are calling on the NHS and social care bodies to give greater leadership to address malnutrition. They're recommending the appointment of a Nutrition Tsar, a clinical director for nutrition within NHS England, to provide leadership across all settings and for all patients at risk of malnutrition.

Writing in PoliticsHome the BSNA point out that the number of adults being admitted to hospital with malnutrition has more than doubled in the last decade, with admissions related to a primary diagnosis of malnutrition increasing to 735 in 2017-18 from 348 in 2008-09, according to new figures released by NHS Digital.

There was also a dramatic increase in the number of admissions with a secondary diagnosis of malnutrition, with the figure more than trebling over the last ten years from 2,545 to 7,803.

BSNA Director General, Declan O’Brien said, “Currently one in three people in care homes, one in ten visiting their GP and one in four people admitted to hospital are malnourished. We know the number of malnourished people is increasing rather than decreasing. This is unacceptable – we need action.”

“While there is now some attention on hospital food with the recently announced national review, for many the problem is caused by an illness that prevents them from eating or absorbing nutrients normally."

“For these patients, what is often needed is properly administered specialist nutrition (known as foods for special medical purposes or medical foods), whether they are in hospital, in care homes or in their own homes."