The insertion of a stomach feeding tube as an invasive procedure carries a significant risk of infection and even death in some cases, doctors have said.

Research by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Society of Gastroenterology found that as many as one in five cases of tube feeding was unsuccessful, according to the BBC.

In 2007 39,000 people in the UK, not including those in hospital, were being artificially fed, the research found.

Tube feeding of dementia patients was found to be unethical and unnecessary because it did not prolong life, the news service said.