New figures uncovered by the Conservatives have found that the number of patients leaving hospital malnourished has risen by record levels in the last year.
Shadow Minister for Health Stephen O’Brien said that the figures were "of serious concern".
"This has been a growing problem for a number of years and yet Labour have done very little to protect these vulnerable people", he said. "Nutrition is important for people who aren’t ill – how much more for those recovering from serious illness and operations?".
The figures show that:
- The number of people being discharged in a state of malnourishment increased by 18% last year, compared to the previous highest year-on-year increase (the year before) of 13%. 28,271 more people were discharged from hospital with malnutrition than in the previous year
- The number of people being discharged from hospital in a malnourished state has increased by 146% since Labour came to power in 1997-98. 110,015 more people were discharged in a malnourished state last year than in 1997-98.
- In 2008/9 185,446 people were discharged from hospital malnourished compared to 175,003 who went in malnourished. This means a record 10,443 patients were more malnourished after being in hospital in 2008/9.
O'Brien added that it was "scandalous that people come out of hospital in a worse state than they go in, particularly due to something as basic as being given decent food".
"We can’t go on like this. We need to free doctors and nurses from Labour’s bureaucracy and targets so that they can get back to doing what they do best, looking after patients."