Good nutrition is vital for good health and a key element in the treatment of many medical conditions. In some cases, diet may be the only treatment required. Dietitians are the professionals who interpret the science of nutrition into practical suggestions for patients to gain better health from the food they eat.
All the dietitians working within the department hold a legally recognised degree qualification in Dietetics and must have current registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC). The HPC sets standards for the training, behaviour and quality of care provided by healthcare professionals. Registration ensures that dietitians provide high quality care based on current scientific evidence.
Dietitians help people to maintain good nutrition in a variety of ways. These include:
- supporting people whose medical condition means they need to eat a special diet, or are unable to eat and are being fed through a tube
- teaching and educating health professionals and the general public about health-related nutrition
- liaising with catering and nursing teams to ensure provision of appropriate meals and support for patients who need help at meal times.
The dietitians at Royal Surrey County Hospital and St Luke’s Cancer Centre work across a wide range of specialities, including diabetes, cancer care and specialist surgery. The department works with adults and children, both on hospital wards (inpatients) and at outpatient clinics.
When we are unwell, we may experience a reduced appetite or find we are eating less than usual. This can cause unwanted weight loss and a slower recovery. Research shows that we get better faster if our nutritional needs are met.
All patients admitted to the Royal Surrey County Hospital will be screened for their nutritional status with the MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool) tool and referred to the dietetic inpatient service if additional support is required.
Following a referral, the dietitians will visit the patient on the ward and often speak with the patient’s family or carers. They will carry out a thorough assessment of the patient’s needs, medical condition and other factors that may be affecting their nutritional status. They will then give advice on how best to improve the patient’s nutritional status and aid recovery.
Support is also provided for patients who are unable to eat and drink and need to receive their nutrition via a feeding tube (enteral nutrition) or directly into the blood stream (parenteral nutrition).
Outpatient clinics are run at the hospital outpatients department (often alongside Consultant clinics) and at some local GP practices.
The dietitians advise patients with a wide range of conditions and run specialist clinics, including:
• Diabetes, cardiac conditions and weight management
• Gastroenterology – coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and food allergy or intolerance
• Cancer and palliative care
• Specialist surgery – support for patients following surgery involving the gastrointestinal tract including, pancreatic, oesophageal and stomach resections
• Paediatric clinics – food allergy and intolerance, weight management, eating and feeding problems from birth to the teenage years, coeliac disease, diabetes, infants and children who fail to gain adequate weight and children with complex needs
If you have never seen a dietitian before and think you need to, you can ask your GP or hospital team to refer you depending on the nature of your condition.
We are unable to see you without a medical referral, except for those patients being treated at St Luke’s Cancer Centre who can self-refer by completing a referral form from the centre reception.
When we receive your referral, we will write to you with the details of your appointment with the appropriate dietitian. If you are unable to make your appointment date or time, please contact us as soon as possible and we will do our best to reschedule.
An initial appointment will take between thirty minutes to an hour. The dietitian will work with you to understand what your needs are, taking account of your medical condition and anything else that may be affecting your health or social circumstances. Together you will agree an individual plan. You may be given some written information to take away.
The dietitians can be contacted on: 01483 464119 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office times: Monday to Friday 8.30 – 4.30. Answer phone available out of hours.
The Health Professions Council: http://www.hpc-uk.org/
British Dietetic Association: http://www.bda.uk.com/
Diabetes UK: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/
Coeliac Society: http://www.coeliac.co.uk/
Macmillan Cancer Care: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/
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