A BRADFORD project has scooped two national awards for helping doctors spot signs of malnutrition early and making sure people get the right care quicker.

Nutritionists and dieticians from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust teamed up with a medicines managing team from NHS Bradford City and Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to win awards for innovation and using technology.

According to health experts, identifying patients early whose diets are lacking in nutrients can reduce hospital stays, cut GP visits and improve quality of life.

During a two-year project, the award-winning Bradford team created a way of using an electronic GP Records system, called SystmOne, to identify and treat undernourished adults.

On its own, the record system cannot spot malnourished people but the template devised in Bradford offers GPs a six-point plan to remind them what to look for, questions to ask, and the resources available when dealing with patients whose diets are not nutritious enough, often elderly people or those with long-term illnesses.

All GP practices across Bradford are now using the template. In its first year of use it helped save about £250,000 by cutting back on inappropriate nutritional supplement prescriptions.

The SystmOne Innovation Award was presented to the Bradford project at the SystmOne National User Group annual conference in October.

The project also won the ‘utilising technology’ category in the PrescQIPP Annual Event and Innovation Awards on October 16.

Susan Sheridan, project lead dietitian, BTHFT, working with the medicines optimisation team at Bradford CCGs, said: “Malnutrition is a serious ongoing problem and it can easily go unidentified. Therefore, we wanted to use our specialist knowledge to develop a tool to support GPs and other health care professionals in a straightforward and easy to understand way.”

“Using the template, clinical teams across Bradford can now identify the signs of malnutrition early and make sure people get the right nutritional care and treatment they need more quickly. It’s a really crucial project that will no doubt improve care, especially for our older population.”

Sara Hopkinson, principal dietitian at Bradford Hospitals Trust added: “Early identification of patients with malnutrition has been shown to reduce hospital stays, reduce GP visits and improve the quality of life for patients.

“The risks associated with malnutrition only increase if the problem is not tackled.”