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Call for protected meal times in hospitals

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Many older people are still going hungry in hospital without protected mealtimes, according to the charity Age Concern.

As part of research for its Hungry to be Heard campaign, the charity has found that 43 per cent of hospital trusts are yet to introduced protected mealtimes and one in three have not introduced the red-tray system to help identify those who need assistance.

The findings also showed that only two in every 10 trusts have rolled out volunteer schemes to help out with mealtimes despite it proven effectiveness in helping to reduce the numbers of malnourished older people in hospital.

Age Concern's campaign calls for older peoples' mealtimes to be 'protected' from non-urgent activity like ward rounds and routine tests.

This would ensure patients can eat without interruptions after previous research found six in 10 people were at risk of becoming malnourished in hospital.

Patrick South, head of public affairs at Age Concern said: 'Tackling malnutrition should be a top priority for all NHS trusts, yet our evidence shows unacceptable inconsistencies across the country.

'It's shocking that many older people still find themselves trapped within a 'postcode lottery of commitment' to improve nutritional standards on hospital wards'.

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