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West Suffolk Hospital sees increase in cases of malnutrition

The number of people admitted to West Suffolk Hospital with malnutrition is on the rise, according to NHS Digital data.

Around 45 people were treated for the condition between March 2017 and March 2018 – an increase of around 13 per cent since 2016, when 40 cases were recorded.

Malnutrition can be caused by a number of factors including certain medical conditions like Crohn’s Disease or anorexia, substance abuse and food poverty.

West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds....Picture Mark Westley. (7644399)
West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds....Picture Mark Westley. (7644399)

Sara Ennew, lead dietician at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said that the hospital saw ‘a variety of patients who present with malnutrition’, with elderly and young people particularly at risk.

“We aim to screen all our patients within 24 hours of admission to identify whether they are at risk of malnutrition,” she said. “If a patient is flagged as ‘at risk’ this will trigger an appropriate care plan to support the individual’s needs.”

Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive at Gatehouse foodbank and dementia hub in Bury St Edmunds, said she was ‘not particularly surprised’ by the increase, adding that the economic climate and individual changes in circumstances were big contributing factors.

“We know that some people are not eating the right foods or enough food and it’s something that we’re always on the lookout for,” she said.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer at the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said that, in partnership with the Suffolk Community Foundation, the CCG had awarded a share of £65,000 in funding to 10 foodbanks across the county, including Gatehouse and Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau.

“We are determined to try and help ease the burden on our most deprived families by providing food resources,” he said.

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