Date Published: 18 April 2007

RCN launches campaign for better patient nutrition

Nearly half of nurses (42%) say they do not have enough time to ensure patients get good nutrition during their working day, a new survey from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reveals. The findings come as the RCN launches a campaign today to improve patient nutrition in hospitals and the community at its Annual Congress in Harrogate.

The RCN survey of over two-thousand nurses across the UK identified the main barriers facing nurses helping patients to get good nutrition. Just under half (49%) of hospital nurses said the lack of availability of food outside of mealtimes was a factor. Nearly half (46%) of hospital nurses surveyed said generally there are not enough staff to ensure patients get the help needed to eat and drink.

Over a quarter (28%) of nurses said there is not a requirement in the nursing documentation for them to record patients' nutritional needs. The survey also showed that 95% of nurses rate patient nutrition as extremely important or important.

Professor Alison Kitson, Executive Director for Nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said:

" Good nutrition and hydration are vital for all of us, but they are even more important for people who are ill. Nurses really do care deeply about this but to ensure that good patient nutrition happens, it needs to be a priority for everybody in the system from the catering staff through to chief executives.

_ Only then will nurses be able to break through the obstacles and get the time and resources to ensure better patient care. The time has come to really make this a top priority. Our campaign will highlight the need to tackle this issue and take action now."

The campaign - Nutrition Now - will run throughout 2007 and aims to raise awareness of the importance of food and drink to patient health and to ensure that patients get good nutritional care.

A set of RCN Principles for Nutrition and Hydration has also been published to launch the campaign. These give nurses a set of basic guiding principles to use to push forward and improve patient nutrition where they work. These principles have been developed in partnership with frontline nurses, patient groups and other key stakeholders.

The RCN Nutrition Now campaign is supported by Abbot Nutrition. Full details of the campaign along with the Principles document and a range of other tools were originally available to be viewed and downloaded from the RCN's Nutriton Now website at www.rcn.org.uk/nutritionnow - content no-longer available.

Source: Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UK.
For more information see http://www.rcn.org.uk.

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