Latest figures show that over 1,000 deaths in hospital in 2010 were linked to or directly caused by dehydration and malnutrition.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows a total of 1,316 patients died thirsty or starving in UK hospitals in 2010. This figure is far higher than the 862 deaths recorded in 2000, and is an increase on the 1,292 deaths in 2009.
155 patients died directly from dehydration and 48 died directly from malnutrition in 2010. A further 812 patients died with dehydration and another 30 with malnutrition, although the conditions did not directly cause their death.
This equated to around 25 deaths every week.
Some patients went hungry or thirsty because of conditions that made it hard to eat or drink, like Alzheimer’s or certain forms of cancer.
But campaigners say that in this day and age no one should be dying hungry or thirsty in hospital, regardless of the circumstances.
Earlier this month David Cameron was forced to order nurses to carry out hourly spot checks of patients just to see whether they need help eating, drinking or going to the toilet.
One hospital was recently forced to prescribe drinking water for patients or put them on drips to make sure they do not become severely dehydrated.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the figures were a “terrible indictment” on the NHS.
“They represent avoidable deaths” she said. “These people needed our care when they were at their most vulnerable.”
Last year, the CQC found only half of the 100 hospitals visited by its inspectors were ensuring patients had enough to eat and drink.
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