New report claims NHS malnutrition figures are 'very misleading'

A Government report has revealed that official statistics claiming just 239 NHS patients a year die from malnutrition in hospital are "very misleading". In fact, the shocking figures suggest that almost 50,000 are dying malnourished in National Health Service wards. And Government ministers have now come under fire as it emerged that the report was, in fact, delivered in August, though it has only been released this week.

Top hospital searches:
  1. Best healthcare
  2. Hospital standards
  3. Private hospital
  4. Elderly health care
  5. Hospital malnutrition
  6. Hospital best practice
  7. Private healthcare services
  8. Malnutrition in the elderly
  9. NHS healthcare
  10. Treatment for malnutrition
The Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board reported that 239 patients had died because of malnutrition in English hospitals in 2007, but added: "We believe that these statistics can be very misleading."

Though the actual number of deaths may be that low, the effects of malnutrition on the body, such as greater vulnerability to disease and a delayed recovery from illness, means the figure could be 200 times greater. Campaigners have already warned that elderly patients are not receiving the best care in England's hospitals and say that many are treated as "second class citizens". And the shocking report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust that has already made headlines this week would seem to confirm those claims.

A total of 1,200 patients' deaths, some of whom were left without food and water for days at time, have been linked to low standards of care at the Trust. But Health Minister Phil Hope insisted comparing the number of patients dying from malnutrition with the number who suffered "some degree" of malnourishment was misleading.

He told the Daily Mail: "It does not necessarily contribute to or is a cause of an individual's death. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible."

However, should reports such as that regarding Mid Staffordshire NHS continue to surface, is it not time that the Government took action?