Tameside Hospital is to set up a permanent food bank collection on site
29 October 2015

PHOTOCALL: Friday, November 13, at 2.30 pm – assemble at Hartshead South entrance, Tameside Hospital

Tameside Hospital is to become the first NHS hospital in the UK to set up a permanent food bank collection on site, after medical staff reported a significant increase in the number of malnourished patients turning up for treatment and care over the last 12 months.

Doctors and nurses say they are worried about outcomes for people as malnutrition affects the function and recovery of the young and elderly in particular.

Medical Director Brendan Ryan explains: “ Experts across the UK agree. These patients have a higher incidence of postoperative complications and mortality. Malnourished surgical patients have complication and mortality rates three to four times higher than normally nourished patients, with longer hospital admissions. And similar findings have been described in medical patients, particularly the elderly.”

Worryingly, the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA) has estimated that up to 40 per cent of patients are malnourished on hospital admission and many go undiagnosed due to inadequate screening.

Chief Executive, Karen James believes Tameside Hospital has in place the right checks and balances* to identify malnourishment, and therefore the food bank initiative is more about helping to reduce or even prevent the problem rather than diagnosing and treating it.

She explains: “Working with the Trussell Trust, Tameside has a network of foodbanks across the Borough with a distribution warehouse in the centre of Ashton. However, the need is growing and supply is limited. With a staff of 2,400, Tameside Hospital is one of the biggest employers in the region. The majority of colleagues live in the community they serve, and some will be aware  - either firsthand, or through family and friends - of other neighbours who are struggling to cope. Many of them are or will become our patients, and we have a duty of care to ensure we help them however we can.

“Speaking with the organisers of the Tameside East foodbank there is great enthusiasm for us to become the first NHS trust to set up a permanent foodbank. They are very keen to help us achieve it, and we are very glad of their support and expertise.”

The plan is for a central collection point within the hospital, and several secure collection ‘bins’ across the far reaches of the site, for staff and visitors to leave their contributions. The type of food people are asked to donate is very important. It must be non-perishable and within its sell-by date. A recommended list of items from The Trussell Trust will be made available to avoid confusion.

The hospital’s ‘scooter’ volunteers will make regular trips to these designated sites to collect the food and bring to the central collection Centre. Then, once a week vans will take the donated food to the warehouse in Ashton for volunteers there to sort and pack the food for distribution. And, emergency food boxes to be made up and be available for staff in A&E to hand out discreetly to those patients they feel would benefit once they are discharged and allowed home.

Gwen Drain, who is manager of the Tameside East foodbank, which is part of the Trussell trust network, says she is delighted by the Hospital’s approach. “Today in Tameside there are families struggling to put food on the table. For people on low incomes, a sudden crisis – redundancy, benefit delay or even an unexpected bill – can mean going hungry. Every day parents skip meals to feel their children and people are forced to choose between paying the rent and eating,” she adds.

 For more information please contact Jonathan Mason, Senior Communications Officer at Tameside Hospital on t: 0161 922 4080

Notes to Editors

Malnutrition affects three million people in the UK and costs the NHS alone an estimated £5bn a year. Latest statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show the number of people admitted to English and Welsh hospitals with malnutrition is rising dramatically – from 5,469 to 6,520 in the past year alone.

*MUST tool (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool)

‘MUST’ is a five-step screening tool to identify adults, who are malnourished, at risk of malnutrition (under nutrition), or obese. It also includes management guidelines that can be used to develop a care plan. It is for use in hospitals, community and other care settings and can be used by all care workers.

Step 1
Measure height and weight to get a BMI score.

Step 2
Note percentage unplanned weight loss and score.

Step 3
Establish acute disease effect and score.

Step 4
Add scores from steps 1, 2 and 3 together to obtain overall risk of malnutrition.

Step 5
Use management guidelines and/or local policy to develop care plan.