'Effects of hunger' impact 300 U.K. deaths

May 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM
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LONDON, May 22 (UPI) -- More than 300 people in England had "effects of hunger" noted on their death certificates in 2010, up from 195 in 2001, officials said.

Stephen Penneck, the director-general of the Office for National Statistics in Britain provided the numbers on behalf of the Cabinet Office in a Parliamentary response to questions asked by Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary.

"Malnutrition may be recorded as the underlying cause of death, but this is a rare occurrence," Penneck said in a statement. "The 'effects of hunger' is never recorded as the underlying cause of death, because it is defined by the international classification of diseases as a 'secondary cause' only. Consequently, deaths with any mention of either of these causes on the death certificate have been provided."

There has been criticism of nursing care of the elderly in hospitals, with some patients reported to have been drinking from flower vases because they were so thirsty, and meals regularly being left out of reach, The Daily Telegraph reported.

However, malnutrition can be a side-effect of underlying conditions such as cancer and dementia, and patients who are nearing the end of their lives are often found to be unable or unwilling to eat, health officials said.

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