A BRADFORD MP has blamed a sharp rise in the number of children hospitalised with malnutrition on the Government’s response to hardships faced in the pandemic, branding its decisions “flawed and delayed”.

An investigation by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran found that almost 2,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition in the first six months of the year.

Freedom of information responses from almost 50 trusts in England, representing 150 hospitals, showed that more than 11,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition since 2015.

The Guardian reported this is double the number of hospitalised children over the same period last year. 

MP Naz Shah (Labour, Bradford West) described feeling “deeply concerned” about the findings and is now calling on the Government to provide a £10 meal voucher for every individual.

Those living in Bradford West and Bradford East wards experience some of the worst levels of poverty seen across the country.

50 per cent of children in Bradford West are currently living in poverty.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Ms Shah said: “I am deeply concerned to learn that there has been a steep rise in the number of children admitted to hospital with malnutrition. 

“The last four months have been a testing time for many, but the pandemic has hit families who were already in poverty particularly hard. Sadly, although these figures are appalling, they are also unsurprising.

“So far, the Government has stumbled at every hurdle in alleviating food poverty for children during the pandemic: the school meal voucher system was flawed and delayed, leading some schools and charities to distribute food directly to children from poor families; the original plan to deny children food over the summer was only reconsidered when a footballer who has experienced child poverty explained how damaging this would be. 

“All of this on top of a series of draconian, poverty-inducing welfare policies which have allowed more and more families to slide into poverty over the last few years, including leaving over 50 per cent of children in Bradford West in poverty.

“As we enter an inevitable economic downturn, it is important that the Government recognises the long-term damage that will be done if more families fall into poverty and more children go hungry. 

“If they can provide a £10 meal voucher for every individual to eat out, then they can put an end to child malnutrition in this country.”

According to the Guardian, the most cases were reported by Cambridge University hospitals trust, which logged 915 admissions, followed by University hospital Southampton NHS trust with 704. Newcastle upon Tyne hospitals NHS foundation trust and Royal Free London NHS foundation trust both had 656.

Bradford district is ranked the fifth most income deprived and sixth most employment deprived local authority in England, data shows.

While 22 per cent of Bradford children are living below the poverty line.

The Telegraph & Argus has requested data for Bradford from the Liberal Democrat’s office.