19 Jan 2021

The BDA strongly discourages NHS organisations from disproportionately redeploying dietitians from vital frontline roles where that will negatively impact on the provision of services to vulnerable patient groups.

Dietitians play a vital role in disease management and improvement – ensuring patients nutrition is optimised in the safest route possible (oral, enteral or parenteral). It is paramount their services are prioritised for those who at most at risk, these include: services to children with special physical and educational needs, those who require enteral/parenteral feeding support in the acute or community setting, those with other urgent nutrition care needs which include but not limited to: malnutrition, those living with cancers, eating disorders, diabetes and renal impairment. Every effort must be made to continue these services, whether virtually or face-to-face. 

Special Education Needs and Disabilities

The impact of COVID-19 on health services for children and young people living with special educational needs and disabilities has already been profound. NHS England rightly published guidance in Summer 2020 to ensure that services paused or reduced during the first wave of the pandemic were restored as quickly as possible.

Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May and Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford MP have made clear in communications to trusts and directly to families that these services should be prioritised during the pandemic and that professionals should not be redeployed into other services.

Annette Mansell-Green, Director of Trade Union and Public Affairs says “Specialist dietitians provide a core element of treatment and care to vulnerable patient groups, and it is vital that this service is maintained during the current pandemic. Any redeployment of these critical staff is likely to contribute to an unacceptable level of risk, compromising the safety and future wellbeing of patients. The BDA Trade Union will provide advice and support to any member finding themselves in this situation”

The BDA understands the need for health services to use their resources dynamically and to best effect during the pandemic, especially during this peak. However, any such redeployment must be proportionate to the harm that will be cause by ceasing or reducing their existing services.