SCOTTISH health minister Shona Robison has expressed “concerns” to the chairman of NHS Borders over a recent damning report on nutritional care for older patients at the Borders General Hospital.

Shona Robison was commenting last week in response to a written parliamentary question from South of Scotland list MSP Michelle Ballantyne.

It follows publication at the end of September of a report by Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) after an unannounced three-day inspection of the hospital in June.

The watchdog concluded that, in terms of nutrition, national standards for safe and effective patient care were not being met and that staff were inadequately trained to meet patient needs and requests.

Its report also noted that, during the visit, one patient had lost more than 10 per cent of their body weight in 17 days since admission, while another had lost four kilograms and a third had shed more than six kilos.

“We have concerns about the leadership and management of food, fluid and nutrition in the hospital,” stated the HIS report which recommended 10 areas for improvement action.

At the time, NHS Borders said it acknowledged and accepted the findings of the report and announced a “back to basics” programme to ensure nursing staff had more time to provide the required nutritional care and maintain the dignity of patients.

Last week Mrs Ballantyne wanted to know the response of the Scottish Government to the BGH inspection report.

She was told by Ms Robison: “Delivering the highest quality of patient care is a key priority of the Scottish Government…and it is disappointing that services have fallen short of the high standards that patients have the right to inspect.

“It is also concerning that leadership and governance issues were identified during the inspection and that they have impacted on patient care.

“I have spoken to the chair of NHS Borders [John Raine] to make clear my concerns about the report’s findings.

“NHS Borders has sought the support of HIS for their work in improving patient care and to address issues highlighted in the inspection.

“Both organisations, along with Scottish Government officials, including the Chief Nursing Officer [Professor Fiona McQueen], are working together to support the NHS Borders senior team in making the necessary improvements to care.”

Problems highlighted by inspections of the BGH are not new and failings in the delivery of person-centred care along with recommendations for improvement were identified by the HIS in July 2012.

In December 2015 the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman recommended that NHS Borders should review nursing care and leadership in the hospital. The watchdog had upheld a complaint from the daughter of an elderly patient with dementia who claimed her mother was not helped with personal care and eating or drinking during her stay.

And in August last year, an HIS review of the care of older people called for the hospital to improve its management of nutritional care.

In its most recent appraisal, the HIS noted that “little learning or action had been taken forward” since the 2016 review.