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26 June 2012

Work To Ensure Patients Are Well Nourished Wins National Award

The nutrition and dietetics service from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) has received an award from the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) for its work to improve nutritional screening in all nine of its hospitals.

Rachel Cooke, specialist dietitian for food policy, at UH Bristol received the award on behalf of the food policy team at BAPEN's annual conference in Liverpool on 18 June. BAPEN is a charitable association, consisting of professional and patient organisations, that raises awareness of malnutrition and works to advance the nutritional care of those in need across hospital and community settings.

Rachel said: "This is a huge honour and a very welcome recognition of the work that staff have done in all inpatient wards across our hospitals to ensure that patients are receiving the nutrition they need."

Alison Moon, chief nurse at UH Bristol said: "It is essential for us to ensure that our patients are well nourished and we have worked very hard to improve nutritional care as we know how important it is to patients. The work that Rachel and her team have done with the  nurses based on wards throughout our hospitals is essential as it ensures that we identify those patients who are at risk of becoming malnourished and gives them the necessary care and support."

Over the last year the food policy team within the nutrition and dietetics department has worked with nursing staff to improve nutritional screening and embed the use of a nutritional screening assessment for all inpatients.

The food policy team does fortnightly audits to check that all inpatients have a nutritional screening assessment within 24-hours of being admitted to hospital. The assessment records information such as the patient's height, weight, body mass index and percentage weight loss over the past three to six months and must be signed and dated by a member of staff. A year ago, 66% of inpatients had a nutritional screening assessment within 24-hours of being admitted to hospital. This figure now stands at 88%.

"It is essential that we assess patients so that we can identify those who are at risk of becoming malnourished and care for them appropriately. We all understand how vital good nutrition is for patients and these assessments help us to identify those patients who need additional support," said Rachel.

The Trust has now begun to audit the use of nutritional care plans and food charts for patients who are identified as being at risk of malnutrition. "Identifying those patients who are at risk of becoming malnourished is extremely important but of course we also need to ensure that the correct action is taken," said Rachel.