A new report published by the London School of Economics should be read by every NHS Trust Board. The report analyses the data from the Adult Inpatient Survey (2012) to build up an in-depth quantitative evidence base on older people's experiences of dignity and nutrition during hospital stays in England.

The report highlights "Inconsistent and poor standards of help with eating during hospital stays were also a key concern. In 2012, about a quarter of all survey respondents indicated that they needed support with eating during their hospital stay. This is a substantial proportion and points towards the issue of support with eating being a major issue for significant numbers of inpatients - just under three and a half million each year - rather than being a marginal or specialist issue. Of those who needed help with eating, more than 1 in 3 (38%) reported that they only sometimes received enough help with eating from staff, or did not receive enough help from staff. We estimate that this is equivalent to around 1.3 million people on an annual basis, of whom about 640,000 are aged 65 or over".

The authors go on to describe patients perceptions of the causes of the problems, "Perceptions of inadequate nursing quantity and quality, and lack of choice of food, stand out as having consistent, large associations with lack of support with eating during hospital stays”.

The report concludes that "there was a widespread and systematic pattern of inconsistent or poor standards of dignity and respect, and help with eating, in hospitals in England in 2012. Evidence of poor and inconsistent standards was not limited to isolated "outlier" healthcare providers. Rather, patient experiences of inconsistent or poor standards of dignity and respect, and help with eating, were a significant general problem affecting inpatients in the vast majority of NHS acute hospital trusts. Dignity and nutrition are key markers of quality of care which have been not given sufficient public policy attention in the past.

The full report can be downloaded here: please circulate the link widely to your colleagues and your NHS Trust Board:

http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cr/casereport91.pdf