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National Patient Safety Agency
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New guidance issued to improve nutrition and hydration standards in all healthcare settings

11 September 2008

 

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is launching the next four in a series of ten factsheets for all healthcare staff and care caterers to support the 10 key characteristics of good nutritional care at the National Association of Care Catering’s conference in Birmingham today (11 September).

 

These factsheets have been produced by the NPSA in conjunction with the Royal College of Nursing, the Hospital Caterers Association, the National Association of Care Catering, BAPEN (British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition) and key stakeholders from the private sector, to improve the nutritional screening of patients and service users when they enter a care setting.  This ensures people have access to food and beverages whenever they need them and improves nutritional planning for all patients.

 

Nutritional screening is historically poorly complied with amongst healthcare professionals.  In 2006 The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) estimated that only 30% of patients were screened for malnutrition on admission to hospital.  In 2007 the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) found that 28% of 11,600 patients studied were at risk of malnutrition on admission to hospital.

 

Speaking about the importance of nutritional screening, Caroline Lecko, Nutrition lead at the NPSA said: “Routine nutritional screening of patients and service users is something that all health and social care settings should establish.  The early detection of malnutrition by the screening of vulnerable risk groups – those with chronic disease and the elderly – can identify those who would benefit from specialised dietary support.  We urge all health and social care staff and care caterers to follow the guidance laid out in these factsheets to help improve nutrition and hydration standards in all health and social care settings.”

 

The factsheets recommend that all patients and service users should have access to food and beverages 24 hours a day, ensuring good nutritional care is achieved and is at the heart of service planning.

 

Another key focus in the factsheets is the need to ensure that every patient and service user has a nutritional care plan which identifies their unique nutritional needs and how they can be met.  This could include considerations such as providing help and advice on food choices; ensuring food is tasty, appealing and of good nutritional value and providing a pleasant environment in which to eat.

 

Patrick South, Head of Public Affairs of Age Concern England said, “The NPSA factsheets are an important step towards ending the scandal of malnutrition in hospitals. It is crucial that every ward in every hospital now put these recommendations into practice. There should be no excuse for patients not getting the nutritional support they need to make a full recovery from illness.”

 

The 10 Key Characteristics for good nutritional care in hospitals were produced by the Council of Europe Alliance (UK) in October 2007, including representation from Government and non-Government organisations across the UK with an interest in nutritional care, including the NPSA, the British Dietetic Association, BAPEN, the Royal College of Nursing, the Hospital Caterers Association and the Royal College of Physicians.

 

The NPSA factsheets have been produced to support these 10 characteristics and the remaining three will be available in April 2009. 

 

 View the NPSA’s four nutritional factsheets.

 


 

 

Notes for editors:

 

Media enquiries and for copies of the factsheets contact: Amelia Lyons in the NPSA Communications Department on 020 7927 9580 or amelia.lyons@npsa.nhs.uk.

 

The NPSA will also be announcing the winners for the Patient Safety Hydration Best Practice Award at the National Association of Care Catering Conference on the 11 September 2008.  The award recognises best practice in Hydration to improve patient safety.

 

The National Patient Safety Agency encompasses the National Research Ethics Service, National Reporting and Learning Service and the National Clinical Assessment Service. Our vision is to lead and contribute to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing healthcare individuals and organisations. Each division works within its sphere of expertise to improve patient outcomes.