A Plymouth GP has resorted to prescribing nutritional drinks to his patients as “more and more” struggle to pay for food.
Dr Richard Ayres, who works at the Cumberland Surgery in Devonport, has started treating patients suffering from malnutrition – including parents of working class families – with high-calorie supplements.
Packed full of vitamins, the 400-calorie drinks are typically used post-surgery but Dr Ayres said they offer starving patients with at least some form of immediate nutrition.
However, he stressed the supplements were not a long-term solution to food poverty.
It comes just weeks after University of Southampton researchers found one in 25 people living in Devonport cannot afford to feed themselves.
“At the Cumberland, we provide outreach services to the homeless so we do see a higher percentage of complex needs,” Dr Ayres told The Herald.
“But over the past two to three years, there has been a definite increase in the number of patients suffering from malnutrition.
“I am aware of the work that local foodbanks do so I often refer patients to those. It’s not that common, but I am noticing patients who come in and are underweight say it’s because they simply can’t afford to eat.