NHS patients and staff will benefit from tastier, healthier and better-quality meals following an independent review of hospital food.
The government has announced it will establish an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward the recommendations made in the report and decide on next steps. These include:
- Upgrading hospital kitchens so a 24/7 service can be provided to everyone.
(Eg, a hot drink and snack in the middle of the night.)
- Digital menus and food ordering systems which can factor in patients’ dietary, cultural and nutritional requirements/needs.
- Agreeing national professional standards for NHS chefs with mandatory professional development, including appropriate compulsory food hygiene and allergen training.
- Increasing the role of nurses, dietitians, caterers and staff wellbeing leads in overseeing food services so that nutritious meals are part of patients’ recovery plans.
“This pandemic has demonstrated more than ever the importance of good food and proper nutrition. We must all prioritise our health and be empowered to eat well, whether we’re at home or in hospital. This impressive report shows the way to good hospital food for all – patients, staff and visitors.”
- Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
The review was led by a panel of advisers including chef and restaurateur Prue Leith (pictured below). Being offered a choice of meals is very important to inpatients, a separate survey of patients' experience of hospital catering has found. The survey, commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, was designed to complement, and feed into, the work of the NHS Hospital Food Review Panel.
Patients who had spent one or more nights in hospital in the past six months were asked about their experiences of hospital catering. 65% of patients said that food impacted their overall experience of being in hospital, although only 20% said food had improved their stay, so there is definitely room for improvement, claims the Patients Association.
More info >
Gov.uk website: New blueprint for better hospital food
Patients Association website: Hospital Food Review 2020