PWE-113 Nutrition support teams in the UK: the current picture

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The importance of presence of a nutrition support team (NST) and a nutrition steering committee (NSC) were recognised in 1994 by BAPEN with the recommendation that all major UK hospitals should appoint a NSC and at least one NST. It was recognised that delivering excellent nutritional care within hospitals required the co-ordination and oversight of a NSC. The NST’s role was to bring together a multi-disciplinary team that could support hospital staff in the provision of nutritional therapy, especially enteral and parenteral nutritional support, at a ward level. A NST should contain at least a doctor, nurse, dietician and pharmacist with specialist skills in nutritional support. NICE guidelines have also made recommendations about the provision of a NSC and NST in all acute trusts. In 2010 the NCEPOD report – A Mixed bag, reported only 60.2% of hospitals in the UK as having a NST of which only 59% had a full MDT provision. We aimed to assess the current provision of NSC’s and NST’s within the UK at this present time.


In June 2017 BAPEN sent a freedom of information (FOI) request to all trusts in England, health boards in Scotland and Wales and social care trusts in Northern Ireland. This requested information on the size of the trust, the presence and composition of the NST and their role within the hospital along with information about the trust’s NSC. Those responses received before 18th October were collated. Hospitals with fewer than 100 beds were excluded from the analysis.


Of the 181 FOI requests made BAPEN received responses from 122 trusts representing 154 hospitals with more than 100 beds. 91% of trusts in the UK had a NSC and only 80% of trusts reported having a NST. Of this only 25% of social care trusts in Northern Ireland and 40% of health boards in Wales reported having an NST. 48% of trusts with an NST had a nutrition nurse, a dietician, a doctor and a pharmacist. 76% of trusts with an NST had a nutrition nurse, 79% had a pharmacist, 86% had a doctor and 88% had a dietician. 57% of NSTs performed a ward round more than once a week with 10% seeing patients as required and 4% providing an advisory role only.


There has been a clear improvement in the provision of NSC’s and NST’s within the UK over time. Sadly despite this increase in NSC’s and NST’s we have not managed to fulfil the aim of having one in each trust. Furthermore the majority do not have the full multi-disciplinary team provision required to provide the highest level of care. More work needs to be done to promote the importance of the NSC and NST and provide support in developing them in trusts that currently do not have them ensure that all trusts have access to them.

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