Form Filling or Feeding, which is more important?
Age Concern wants an army of volunteers to feed elderly patients who might otherwise go hungry because nurses are too busy to sit with them at mealtimes.
The Government is considering introducing a "red tray" system for patients who need help with their feeding. It would signify that the tray should not be removed until a patient had finished eating or has had help to finish a meal.
The plan is being considered at an emergency meeting on malnutrition in hospitals today but Age Concern say it is not enough and hospitals must also launch large-scale volunteering programmes in which vetted members of the public would feed patients.
A spokesman said: "A lot of hospitals don't have the staff to feed patients properly, and volunteers are the way to support assistance with feeding."
Today's meeting comes six months after Age Concern launched its "Hungry to be Heard" campaign, which said that six out of 10 older patients were at risk of being malnourished while in hospital. Nine out of 10 nurses admitted they did not always have time to help patients with eating.
May I make a modest suggestion? I would have thought ensuring that patients had adequate nutrition was one of the most important priorities of nursing so why not get some of the NHS staff we pay for to do it, and leave the non-essential duties to one side.
I had to pop to my local Minor Injuries Unit on Monday, luckily it hasn't been closed yet. I was seen very quickly but before I could be seen the nurse had to fill out a four page form. I think my theatrical groan of pain as she got to asking my ethnicity and religion made her reconsider her priorities and leave the form and come and see what my problem was. As she said, the forms seem to get longer and she couldn't see what the purpose of them was, unless it was to generate even more statistics and targets....