It seems inconceivable that anyone could starve to death in hospital

  Forum Editor 10:33 23 Dec 2012
  Al94 11:35 23 Dec 2012

Far from being inconceivable! It has been a huge issue for years. Before my mother passed away 2 years ago she was hospitalised many times and on each occasion she went down hill rapidly in hospital due to lack of nourishment, dehydration, infection etc. She had dementia and the hospitals hadn't the resources to provide basic care. Drinks were frequently left well out of reach, no one encouraged her to drink except ourselves when visiting. I went in one day well after lunchtime, her lunch (sandwiches in a sealed plastic pack) were totally out of her reach on a table.

On returning to the home they would get her built up again until the next time hospitalisation was necessary and the same would happen again.

  BT 11:38 23 Dec 2012

Unfortunately it happens.

A friend's Step Father was in hospital and unable to help himself, and had virtually nothing to eat for several days. My friend ran a campaign and got Red Trays introduced in the hospital for people who needed help in eating.

I was in the same hospital earlier this year and the food was Abysmal to say the least. I complained to a volunteer who was doing a patient survey around the wards and there was a slight improvement, but not much.

  johndrew 12:07 23 Dec 2012

Given the recent reports on NHS hospital care it should come as no surprise that patients starve to death whilst in their care. Added to this there is the so called Liverpool Pathway, where both food and fluids are withdrawn, (the patient is still malnourished regardless of what the death certificate says) and that nurses appear to be picked for other than a natural caring nature, we must accept that anyone ill enough not to be capable of feeding themselves is likely to starve.

Those most at risk are the more vulnerable, especially the elderly many of whom have no visitors to aid them. To me there appears to be an unadvertised policy of reducing the number of elderly as they enter the NHS hospital system using these processes.

Having said this there are many in the NHS who do care; it is within the bean counters, administrators and other self professed experts that the problems are generated. Perhaps it is time to return to the 'old' systems of the 1960s where Matron was god and nurses truly nursed; given the medicine then hospitals appeared far healthier.

  lotvic 12:21 23 Dec 2012

It's believable, I lost a very dear elderly friend due to same, no food and dehydration.

Also personal experience a few years back when I had a little op. Despite filling in the menus there was never any meal for me on the trolley. The other patients resorted to giving me a bit of theirs and my family brought in sandwiches. Even the nurses on ringing the kitchen couldn't get any for me. I never did understand why.

  oresome 12:38 23 Dec 2012

I suppose if you have litle experience of NHS hospitals you might find it inconceivable.

Spend some time in one as a patient or visit a friend or relative and it's perfectly believable. There is no doubt some staff in some wards seem to be rushed off their feet, but in other wards, staff seem to cluster around the central station talking much of the time.

  Forum Editor 13:45 23 Dec 2012


**"I suppose if you have litle experience of NHS hospitals you might find it inconceivable. Spend some time in one as a patient or visit a friend or relative and it's perfectly believable"**

In September I had an accident that resulted in a serious crush injury to my foot. It involved four hours of complicated surgery and an eight day stay in a big NHS hospital in London. I am still walking in one of those giant plastic space-boots,and will return for more surgery (to remove four screws from the foot) in January.

I was in a room in a surgical ward that had six beds. Four of my fellow patients had dementia - they had fallen whilst wandering at night in their care homes and had broken a hip. There was a constant background of incoherent shouting and rambling - it went on all night, every night, and during the day as well.

The ward staff were superb, there's no other word for it. The way they cared for the dementia patients was something to see. I would have lost it within five minutes. They dealt with constant cries for attention, complaints about pillows not being right, this not right, that not right, soiled beds, attempts to get up when drips and catheters were in - all manner of irritations that would have had me running for the Vallium. Not once did I see a sign of impatience or irritation from a nurse - they were a credit to their profession. One of them said to me, late at night when we were sharing a quiet moment 'I always keep the thought in my head that one day it could very well be me in that state,and it helps me to deal with it'.

My experience was a good one, I'm not naive enough to think that everyone will have the same, but it does come as a shock to hear that people can die of starvation in a hospital in this country because the staff don't give them any food to eat.

  johndrew 15:15 23 Dec 2012

fourm member I suggest you refer to the four bullet points under the title, "What is the Liverpool Care Pathway?" in your link.

It says: "whether fluids should be given, when a patient has stopped being able to eat or drink". This has been used to stop intravenous fluids and nourishment.

  oresome 15:28 23 Dec 2012

Forum Editor

I have been amongst similar patients in hospital and witnessed care that needed the patience of a saint.

Equally, at no time did I see anyone receive help in eating their food and much of it was later collected almost untouched.

  Forum Editor 15:35 23 Dec 2012


Fluids are not 'withdrawn' from patients in that context - the patients withdraw themselves, as it were, by ceasing to be able to eat or drink.

We're talking about people who are in the process of dying, and although they can be hydrated intravenously that isn't a solution if they will never drink again. The guiding ethos is one of deciding whether or not the continuation of medication and other treatment is conferring any benefit, and if it isn't and may be discontinued without causing pain or discomfort the decision may be taken.

Some people talk about the LCP as if it involves killing patients, but that's not the case at all.

  Forum Editor 15:38 23 Dec 2012


" no time did I see anyone receive help in eating their food"

I did, every day. Perhaps I was just lucky, and was in a particularly good hospital.

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