- Hunger or thirst were responsible for some 1,022 registered deaths during 2015
- Dehydration was recorded as a cause of 429 patients who died while in hospital
- While malnutrition was mentioned in 297 hospital-based death certificates
- They were responsible for 130 deaths in care homes and 166 'elsewhere'
Two British people are dying each day in care of the NHS as a result of starvation or dehydration, shocking new statistics show.
Hunger or thirst were responsible for 1,022 registered deaths in 2015, with patients in hospitals and care homes being 'forgotten to death'.
Experts argue that the increasing demand on NHS staff is causing them to provide lower levels of care towards rising numbers of patients.
This means they are unable to help elderly people eat and drink by holding their cups and cutlery for them - leading to them starving to death, some argue.
Hunger or thirst were responsible for 1,022 deaths registered in 2015, new figures show
Dehydration was recorded on 429 death certificates of patients who passed away during a period in hospital.
While malnutrition was mentioned on 297, figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed.
Figures were based on deaths where either cause was mentioned somewhere on a death certificate, either as an underlying cause or a main factor.
In care homes, 54 elderly patients passed away as a result of not being fed properly and 76 died from not consuming enough fluids.
A further 80 people passed away from dehydration outside of hospital or care homes, while 86 starved to death in the same setting.
HUNGER AND THIRST DEATHS BREAKDOWN
In care homes:
But experts warn that many of these deaths overlap, and that some certificates will have recorded both causes as a means of death
This comes after Stanley Mack, 77, was found to have died from dehydration while in hospital in 2008.
His son, Ian, told The Sun: 'He was absolutely forgotten to death.'
Patient Concern's Joyce Robins also told the newspaper: 'Every one of these deaths is a tragedy.
'Hospital wards are full and staff are run off their feet looking after so many patients it is impossible to give them the care they need.
'Patients will need help eating or drinking but are being neglected.'
The British Red Cross last week claimed a winter surge in demand for the NHS had caused a 'humanitarian crisis' in hospitals across the country.
Its chief executive said the charity had been 'called in' to help transport people home from hospital to free up beds.
Dehydration was recorded on 429 death certificates of patients who passed away during a period in hospital. While malnutrition was mentioned as a cause for 297
But Prime Minister Theresa May rejected its claim and instead said the health service faces 'huge pressures'.
Education Secretary Justine Greening told the BBC's Andrew Marr: 'I don't think it's appropriate to describe the challenges that the NHS faces this winter as a humanitarian crisis.'
She said the NHS was better prepared this winter than in previous years.
Stanley Mack, 77, was admitted to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham with a chest infection and was later diagnosed with the superbug Clostridium difficile.
He died three weeks later in July 2008 and, during his final days, his family said hospital staff failed to realise he was rapidly deteriorating.
His widow Carol previously said: 'There was no record that was reliable of what he was being given.
'He would be given drinks and they would be left there and occasionally they would be written up as given to him, but we knew when we were there that he was not drinking it.
'However, it was described, it wasn't run in a way that met the patient's needs.
'And of course, because of that his condition was allowed to deteriorate and particularly, for him to become acutely dehydrated.'
The family endured a five-year legal battle with the hospital to try to get to the bottom of exactly how the pensioner died.
An initial inquest returned a narrative verdict – suggesting no-one was at fault.
But the family appealed for a second inquest in 2013 which ruled Mr Mack had died from dehydration.
'We have put in £400 million of extra funding to particularly help these winter pressures and, indeed, the NHS is better prepared this year than it has been in the past,' she said.
However, the claims emerged when two patients died on trolleys in Worcestershire Royal Hospital's accident and emergency department in the last week.
Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, warned last week: 'The emergency care system is on its knees, despite the huge efforts of staff.'
But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today admitted the NHS is also facing some 'very serious problems'.
He told the Today programme: 'I don't want to pretend that we haven't - at this most difficult time of the year for the NHS - had some very serious problems in some hospitals.
'I think we need to listen to independent people like Chris Hopson - no friend of the Government when it comes to NHS policy, he speaks for all hospitals in the NHS - who rejects this idea...he says that the vast majority of hospitals are actually coping slightly better than this time last year.'
Figures last year suggested that 7,949 deaths may be attributed to hunger and thirst in the past decade.
And just last month, a grandmother was found to have died of thirst after being given a powerful drug known to cause dehydration.
An inquest into the death of Edna Thompson, 85, from Harrietsham in Kent, heard that she was the victim of a catalogue of errors at the hands of NHS staff.
Mrs Thompson was admitted to hospital after losing sight in her right eye with suspected malignant glaucoma, in September last year.
During her stay, she was prescribed the diurectic drug diamox to lower her blood pressure.
On the same day, she was also given mannitol, a powerful drug normally used when medication such as diamox does not work.
Diuretics, known as 'water pills', work by ridding the body of unneeded water and salt through urine.
This means the blood is easier for the heart to pump and blood pressure falls as a result.
About Article Author
He is a leading authority on business trends including ‘big data’, self-employment and the social media revolution. He’s the author of the award-winning book, Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley) and a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. He has spoken about global mega trends, big data and the social media revolution at conferences and business events around the world .View More Articles