More than 2,600 people have died from malnutrition in hospitals and care homes in England during the past decade, newly released figures show.
Data revealed to the Conservatives in a Parliamentary answer shows 2,656 people died of malnutrition between 1997 and 2007 (the most recently available figures).
The Tories claim the government figures suggest an 85% increase in those being discharged from hospitals undernourished since 1997.
The biggest regional increases in hospital deaths from malnutrition have been in the East Midlands (55%) and the South East (27%) and the North-west (23%).
Stephen O'Brien, shadow minister for health, said: "A healthy diet and nutritional care are absolutely crucial I patients are to make a swift recovery, yet the Government is presiding over a culture of carelessness and rising deaths.
"There can be no excuses, the least that patients should be able to expect is to be fed properly when they go into hospital for treatment."
O'Brien said too much red-tape and paperwork for frontline NHS staff was the major cause of malnutrition, along with under-staffing.
By Chris Druce
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