20th Nov 2009 - 00:00
The National Association of Care Catering has said that news of Flowfoods going into receivership, heralds worrying times for the community meals sector as a whole.
Recent research has highlighted the decline in the number of community meals delivered in the UK from the high of 40 million at the turn of the century to around 25 million today. This period has also seen BAPEN state that public expenditure on disease-related malnutrition in the UK in 2007 had risen to Â£13billion, and that at any point in time more than 3 million people are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The vast majority being people living in the community. The Government launched its Improving Nutritional Care Action Plan in the Autumn of 2007. Central to the plan was the aim of addressing the malnutrition issue. But it is a sign of the times that one of the major manufacturers in this area is now in receivership. As many services are being cut locally or the eligibility criteria to receive a community meal is being raised, impacting on preventative nutritional care. Derek Johnson, NACC National Chair has said: "We need to address the decline in Community Meals and the rising cost of malnutrition to the NHS. If we could improve the situation by just 10% then we would save over Â£1 billion of taxpayers money. "It is now essential that central government provide guidance for local authorities. We need to ensure that we find a way forward for all local authorities who provide or commission services, to make sure that those living in the community don't become malnourished, and a further burden on the national health service. "The Personalisation of Care Services is to be welcomed. We would want all our customers to have choice and independence. However as local authority services decline, local provision has yet to develop in many areas and it is of particular concern that without the nutritional standards inherent in local authority provision, that the nutritional well-being of people on individualised budgets may not be safeguarded. "Commissioning staff need to be trained to understand the complexities of nutritional care and service users need the information to make informed choices. This will enable people to make the right choices - eating for good health."