THE number of admissions to Barnsley Hospital owing to malnutrition rose by more than 75 per cent last year, shocking new figures have revealed.

NHS England data shows there were about 160 hospital admissions at Barnsley Hospital with a secondary or primary diagnosis of malnutrition in the year to March 2023.

It was up from an estimated 90 admissions recorded the year before.

Of the 127 hospital trusts across England with sufficient data, the number of hospital episodes where a patient was diagnosed with malnutrition - primarily protein deficiencies - reached roughly 10,795 last year.

It was a slight increase from 10,660 in 2021/22 and the highest number since at least 2009/10.

Ana Maria Narvaez, senior policy and advocacy officer at the Food Foundation, said: “The latest NHS figures on malnutrition-related hospital admissions ring alarm bells about the dire health consequences of escalating food insecurity.

“The ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis, accentuated by high food prices, jeopardises families’ ability to afford enough nutritious food.”

The latest figures have also revealed that almost half of all people in Barnsley were unable to consistently provide their household with healthy food.

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The latest Office for Health, Improvement and Disparities figures show 47 per cent of Barnsley residents suffered from food insecurity in 2021.

Food insecurity is when people do not have consistent access to enough food that is varied, culturally appropriate, and can sustain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said the figures should make the government ‘deeply ashamed’.

He told the Chronicle: “The rise in malnutrition cases in hospitals across the country, including here in Barnsley, is scandalous.

“Diseases we thought had been consigned to the history books - like scurvy - have returned and the government should be deeply ashamed it is happening on their watch.

“Their failure to adequately support people through the cost-of-living crisis and tackle food inflation has meant that many people can barely afford the essentials, with some skipping meals and missing out on vital nutrition - including children.

“The last Labour government took matters like this incredibly seriously and lifted millions out of poverty - we desperately need another government with that same drive.”

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the rising number of malnutrition cases is ‘unacceptable’ in a developed nation like the UK.

She added: “As we’ve seen fresh, healthier foods spike in price and become unaffordable for a substantial proportion of our most vulnerable patients, we’ve seen an inevitable impact on their physical health.”