Death rates among elderly patients admitted into hospital with hip fractures are cut by a half if they are given one extra meal a day, an NHS pilot study seen by The Telegraph has shown.
The HIP QIP programme, which was introduced two years ago, saw nutritional advisors source extra food from the hospital's canteen and external shops before they sat down with the elderly patients as they ate their meal.
Following its success across six trusts, five in England and one in Scotland, medical bosses will now consider if it should be introduced across the country.
The HIP QIP programme saw nutritional advisors source extra food from the hospital's canteen and sit with patients as they ate their meal. (Stock image)
The pilot scheme, led by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, came about after staff noticed those admitted into hospital with hip fractures were unable to acquire enough nutrients.
Experts now believe the extra meal given to those on geriatric wards not only provided them with a few more calories but also helped keep their morale up.
So far the HIP QIP programme, which aims to improve the care of patients with hip fractures, has seen mortality rates drop from 11 to 5.5 per cent.
According to recent figures provided by The Health Foundation almost 65,000 patients were admitted to hospital in 2015 with hip fractures and nearly a third will die within a year.
The HIP QIP programme, led by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, aims to improve the care of patients with hip fractures
Chief orthopaedic surgeon for the National Hip Fracture Database Mr Dominic Inman said the food intake of patients was sometimes missed by distracted members of staff.
He told The Telegraph: 'At that point it's all about getting calories into the patient.
'If you look upon food as a very, very cheap drug, that's extremely powerful.'
After the scheme was launched in 2016 hospitals have also seen the average length of time elderly patients stay in hospitals fall from 25 to 20 days.