Claims of poor food at hospital

AN elderly patient at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital allegedly developed severe malnutrition and fell into a coma, due to poor food and staff disinterest in her needs.

Her family has spoken out as a survey from the NHS Information Centre revealed nationally 13,500 NHS hospital patients became malnourished in the past three years.

The family of the patient, who wish to remain anonymous, say they spent months battling for her to be offered food suitable for her diet, and asking that she be monitored to ensure she ate the food given to her.

The patient’s daughter said: “My mother had no problems eating when she was admitted to hospital but she soon deteriorated. She was clearly depressed and not eating, but she was offered no help.

“The food was awful and staff would put it on a tray in front of her then take it away again half an hour later, without checking whether or not she had actually eaten it.”

Realising that the poor food on the menu may be contributing to the patient’s refusal to eat, the family started providing their own food, but the hospital staff could not heat it up for the patient, meaning a family member had to be present at every mealtime to feed their relative.

Living nearly an hour away from the hospital, this was impractical, expensive and stressful for all the family members involved, they said.

The daughter of the patient said: “I dread to think what happens to all the other patients in similar positions who may not have friends or family to do this for them. If we hadn’t been there to fight for my mum, we are convinced she would have died.”

The family have since moved their relative to a rehab centre where they say she is given a more appropriate diet, counselling and attention.

An L&D spokeswoman said that without more details of the case they could not respond to the allegations, which they are keen to do.

She added: “At the L&D we recognise that food plays a huge part in any patient experience and nutrition is a crucial part of the recovery process.

“Catering and nutrition teams work together to ensure patient meals have good nutritional content and we also have a number of specialist menus to provide for patients who have particular needs.

“We encourage patients who have concerns about food in hospital to speak to staff or to write to the Patient Affairs Liaison Service at the hospital.”