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Concern over lack of nutrition experts in hospitals

Hospitals have made little improvement in having dedicated doctor and nurse specialists who are experts in the field of nutrition.

Research from Bapen, a charitable association that raises awareness of malnutrition and works to advance the nutritional care of patients, found that over a five-year period, there was only a very marginal increase in the number of hospitals with access to a Nutrition Support Team (NST).

NSTs are composed of nutritional experts from medicine/surgery, nursing, dietetics and pharmacy who can co-ordinate the contributions of each of these specialities into coherent nutritional support.

The findings come from Bapen’s Nutrition Screening Week (NSW) Reports which cover the UK as a whole and its four nations. The reports combined the data collected from the organisation’s NSW findings from 2007 to 2011. Each NSW was carried out in a different season of the year.

The surveys involved a total of 661 hospital centres and data on 34,699 patients admitted to hospitals across the UK.

They did, however, find that many hospitals had made progress in implementing nutrition screening policies, with the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) the most widely used, employed by 82% of centres by 2011.

Malnutrition was a greater factor in hospital admissions in winter when it was prevalent in 34% of admissions compared to the autumn when this was down at 28% and spring (25%).

Marinos Elia, Bapen’s Nutrition Screening Week lead, said: “The results of the NSW Surveys reflect the changes and improvements seen during 2007-2011 but there is still room for much more to be done.

“We hope that the recent publication of the NICE Quality Standard and a focus on nutritional screening in all nations of the UK will results in greater prioritisation and further improvements in the provision of good nutritional care.”

Read the full article Nutrition Screening Week

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