Bradford West MP George Galloway has called for urgent action after newly-released figures showed that the number of people admitted to hospital for malnutrition has almost doubled in five years.

Mr Galloway asked for the statistics in response to concerns of constituents he says have to choose between food or heating. And yesterday those figures were revealed to him by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

In 2008/09 there were 52 people admitted to hospitals run by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust suffering from malnutrition. In 2012/13 that figure stood at 100, although in 2011/12 it reached 136.

Mr Galloway (Respect, Bradford West) has now called for urgent Government action, and blamed austerity cuts for people going hungry.

He said: “I would never have believed that in a modern British city in the 21st century we would be seeing malnutrition, far less the doubling of it in five years, and with no signs of it stopping.”

On his recent discussions with constituents, he said: "It was a question of food for them, or for their children, or heating. That became a necessary and terrible choice between these, with not enough money to go round.

“The cause is obvious – poverty – as is the solution, increased benefits, rather than cuts to them, and increased job opportunities. In my constituency the rate of those out of a job is almost 13 per cent.

“This Government’s austerity programme is to blame, the punishing of the poor for the benefit of the rich. And these shameful figures are a powerful, damning indictment.”

Mr Galloway has asked Mr Hunt’s department if it can explain the doubling in cases – and he has raised a Parliamentary motion calling for the Government to ensure that poverty is eradicated through measures including the halting of benefit cuts.

As of April, much of the responsibility for public health fell to Bradford Council as a result of a shake up of the NHS.

Bradford Council leader David Green, chairman of the council’s Health and Social Care scrutiny committee, described the statistics as extremely worrying.

He said: “I could take some guesses why, given the economic crisis and people having less money to pay for food but it is extremely difficult to be totally sure of the reasons. As a Council one of the things we prioritise is looking at health inequalities, and one of the biggest results of this is malnutrition.”