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Malnutrition

Health written question – answered on 27th June 2012.

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Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) how many patients were screened for malnutrition on admission to hospital in each of the last five years;

(2) what training and support the NHS provides to healthcare professionals to identify malnutrition;

(3) what steps he is taking to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in (a) hospitals and (b) care homes; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

Local national health service organisations are responsible for nutritional screening. We do not centrally collect information on the numbers of patients screened for malnutrition in the format requested. The NHS Information Centre collects partial data within the Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) programme. In the 2009-11 PEAT programmes, information was collected on the percentage of patients who were screened for the purpose of their nutritional care. This information is in the following table:

What percentage of patients were screened for the purpose of their nutritional care within 24 hours of their admission
  Percentage of patients
Number of sites 0-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100
2009 (1,192 in total) 118 36 62 104 872
2010 (1,192 in total) 149 33 96 126 788
2011 (1,172 in total) 70 33 40 130 899
Notes: 1. PEAT data are collected at hospital site level for all hospitals with more than 10 in-patient beds. 2. In 2010 and 2011, it was a requirement that the data provided were based on a recent audit. 3. In mental health services, the figures relate to the percentage of patients weighed within 72 hours of admission. 4. The number of hospital sites undertaking PEAT inspections varies from year to year due to reconfigurations and other changes in service delivery.

The content and standard of health care training is the responsibility of the independent regulatory bodies for the professions concerned. Through their role as the custodians of standards in education and practice, these organisations are committed to ensuring high quality patient care is delivered by health professionals and that health care professionals are equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to deal with the problems and conditions they will encounter in practice. Providers of care have a duty to ensure that staff have appropriate training and are competent in identifying those at risk from malnutrition.

There is a variety of best practice guidance and resources in place to support health care professionals in meeting people's nutritional needs. These include the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on malnutrition in which all in-patients should be weighed, measured and have their body mass index calculated on admission.

The Essence of Care benchmarking system covers all aspects of fundamental care including “food and drink” covering screening and assessment on initial contact, and the high impact actions which include an action about keeping patients nourished.

At the heart of the health care reforms is a focus on improving the quality and outcomes of health care for patients. One of the NHS Commissioning Board's roles will be to provide national leadership, in driving up the quality of care. The board, along with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), will have a legal duty to secure continuous improvement in the quality of services and outcomes. In addition, CCGs will work with local authorities to develop a comprehensive analysis of health and social care needs in each local area and to translate these into action through the joint health and well-being strategy, which will drive local commissioning of health care, social care and public health.

All providers of regulated activities must register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and meet 16 registration requirements governing essential levels of safety and quality. The requirements include a requirement to meet the nutritional needs of patients and people who use services. The CQC has a wide range of independent enforcement powers that it can use if it considers providers are not meeting the requirements.

During 2011, the CQC conducted a focussed inspection programme looking at dignity and nutrition, inspecting 100 national health service wards providing care for older people. Building on this programme, the CQC plans to inspect a further 50 hospitals and 500 care homes in 2012.

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