More than a third of the 2,256 cases last year were in pensioners, and that’s just for people who had it as a ‘primary diagnosis’. Labour claimed it was a damning indictment of a decade of Tory rule
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Malnutrition cases treated by the NHS in England have more than doubled under a decade of Tory rule.
The total has risen steadily in almost every year over the last decade, falling slightly only in 2013/14 and 2020/21.
More than a third of the 2,256 cases last year were in pensioners, with around a tenth of all cases recorded in over-80s.
There were also 59 under-18s suffering from malnutrition, excluding fetal malnutrition.
The figures only count those whose “primary diagnosis” – the main reason they were treated – was malnutrition, so do not factor in thousands of other cases.
Labour highlighted the figures after the April 1 jump in energy bills which experts warned will double the number of families struggling to pay.
Five million households are now in ‘fuel stress’, according to the Resolution Foundation – spending at least 10% of their budget on energy bills.
That rises to 24% of households in the North East.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “”The cost of living crisis facing Britain’s working people, families and pensioners is devastating.
“As heating bills go through the roof, prices escalate, tax rises and severe real terms cuts to Universal Credit and the state pension bite, more and more are pushed into food poverty.
“The rising levels of malnutrition, hunger and food bank demand stands as a shameful indictment of twelve years of Tory government.”
Energy firms’ websites crashed yesterday as people submitted meter readings ahead of today’s £693 surge in annual bills.
The TUC demanded an emergency budget with general secretary Frances O’Grady saying: “This is a living standards emergency. Last week’s Spring Statement was woefully inadequate.”
And parents told Save the Children they would be giving their children shared baths and cold dinners, or even sending them to bed hungry.
Bethany Fern, a 26-year-old single mum to a seven-year-old and three-year-old from Southport, told the charity: “I’m going to try and cut back even more on what we spend on food and try to freeze more.
“We’ll be eating a lot more cold meals, triple-checking that plugs are turned off if not being used and limiting TV even more than we already do.
“We already have the heating off a lot, and my children rely on extra layers, duvets and weighted blankets.
“They have to have shared baths or not fresh baths between each other to preserve the boiler from heating water.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable, and latest figures show two million fewer people in absolute poverty after housing costs than in 2009/10, including 400,000 pensioners and 500,000 children.
“We recognise the pressures people are facing with food prices, that’s why we’ve increased the minimum wage to £9.50 an hour from today and are doubling the value of our Household Support Fund to £1 billion.
“We also have dedicated schemes to provide nutritious food, including Healthy Start for pregnant women and Free School Meals, and we’re encouraging pensioners to check what further support might be available to them through Pension Credit.”