The British Dietetic Association (BDA) and the British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA) are calling for patients with long-term conditions to have a clear care plan which takes account of their nutritional needs.

The call is one of the key recommendations for action made by the organisations in a new report launched recently. The report, The Value of Nutritional Care in Helping the NHS to Deliver on the NHS Outcomes Framework, demonstrates how delivering good nutritional support can help the NHS in England meet its ambition to improve patient outcomes and experience of care.  It includes practical examples of good practice provided by dietitians, as well as links to resources to support commissioners and providers in putting high quality services in place in their area.

The organisations believe high quality nutritional care and access to support from dietitians are essential in helping people with long-term conditions to manage their condition better and in improving experience of care.  More than 15 million people in England have a long term condition and this is set to increase over the next 10 years as the population ages.  The care of people with long-term conditions accounts for 70% of spend on health and social care in England.

Siân O’Shea, BDA Honorary Chairman said: “Our report shows that improving nutrition, with support from a dietitian, can help to prevent health problems, improve functional status, and increase quality of life and well-being in people living with long-term conditions.  With rising numbers of us living with one or more long-term condition(s), and escalating costs of care, we need to act now to help people manage their care better. 

“Nutrition is an essential part of this.  Simple steps, like ensuring every person with a long term condition has a nutritional assessment and a clear care plan that takes account of their nutritional needs and gives them access to support from a dietitian where needed, can make a real difference.  We hope this report will be helpful in focussing minds and supporting change.”

“This report is also published on the day when the British Dietetic Association launches its new campaign called ‘Trust a Dietitian’ which positions dietitians as the gold standard when it comes to food and nutrition professional, and further highlight the value and impact of dietitians on the health of the nation.”

Roger Clarke, Director General of BSNA said: “We are delighted to have worked together with the BDA to produce this report.  The NHS is yet to fully harness the potential of improving nutritional care.  By better understanding people’s needs and identifying how and where nutritional care could be improved, the NHS can put in place systems to support people with long-term conditions in their homes, in the community, and in hospital.

“Preventing just a fraction of unplanned and unnecessary hospitalisations through identifying malnutrition early and acting swiftly could result in significant savings as well as improving people’s experience of recovery and care.”

As part of the report, the BDA and the BSNA have made a number of recommendations for action, including: improving the quality and accuracy of data and information on hospital admissions related to malnutrition, identifying malnutrition risk earlier, and better supporting patients and carers to ensure all patients receive appropriate access to treatment, to improve their health outcomes.