Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester
Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester

Hospital to give free food (discreetly) to starving patients due to malnourishment fears

Staff at Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester noticed that more and more patients were showing signs of the condition

Ian Johnston
Thursday 29 October 2015 01:09

A hospital in Greater Manchester is to discreetly offer food parcels to patients who appear to need them with concern growing about malnourishment among Britain’s poorest people.

Tameside Hospital also plans to open its own food bank collection centre next month, The Guardian reported.

Cases of malnutrition have gone up by more than 50 per cent since 2010/11 and other so-called ‘Victorian’ diseases, often associated with poverty, such as scurvy, scarlet fever, cholera and whooping cough have also gone up.

Staff at Tameside have been given training about the symptoms of malnutrition after the hospital noticed that more and more patients were showing signs of the condition. Accident and Emergency staff will be given food in carrier bags to give to patients in need when they are discharged.

Tameside’s chief executive, Karen James, told The Guardian: “I was talking to an old lady recovering on a ward, who was in financial difficulties and chose to feed her dog first after paying the bills, whilst she went without. It’s heartrending.”

“I and the staff believe we can do something greater than just managing the acute episode of illness. We want to start to educate patients, old and young, about how better to look after themselves.”

Tameside hospital’s medical director, Brendan Ryan, said not getting enough food could mean the difference between life and death.

“Experts across the UK agree… [malnourished] patients have a higher incidence of postoperative complications and mortality,” he said.

The hospital approached the Tameside East food bank, which is part of the nationwide Trussell Trust organisation, for help setting up the food bank there.

Gwen Drain, the local food bank centre manager, said: “Today in Tameside there are families struggling to put food on the table. For people on low incomes, a sudden crisis – redundancy, benefits delay or an unexpected bill – can mean going hungry.

“Every day parents skip meals to feed their children. People are forced to choose between paying the rent and eating.”

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