Eat Well Nurse Well

Readers' letters on healthy eating

Readers of Nursing Standard have been writing in with their views on food and nutrition issues for nurses, and here's what they have to say.

Lorna Young: Nights will always be part of nursing, but don’t blame us for the problems

Published in print: Nursing Standard, 19 November 2014

As a staff nurse working a mix of shifts, I read ‘Night-shift staff are more likely to struggle to remain a healthy weight’ (Analysis November 5) to find out what I should be doing now.

I would love to eat healthily, but there are always family pressures. I rise from a day sleep when the children return from school. Then I need to prepare an evening meal and help with homework and chores.

I do not have the time or money to prepare additional healthy food for work. With no canteen or vending machine on nights, I pick up a sandwich and yoghurt, or starve.

In my youth and pre-family, I did permanent nights. We had a cook and canteen on site, so I would flip my life for a five-night or seven-night run. I would wake to breakfast with EastEnders, have a hot ‘lunch’ at work and a light snack on returning home before bed.

Nights will always be part of nursing, but don’t blame us for the problems. It is the hospital management, rather than the nurses, who are responsible.

We nurses did not introduce rotational contracts, close the night canteen or introduce extended workloads. Why do we have to keep mopping up after our managements fail us?

Donato Tallo: Good hydration is as important for us as it is for our patients

Published in print: Nursing Standard, 3 December 2014

I support your Eat Well, Nurse Well campaign to improve the health of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

It is good to see the campaign being backed by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens and England’s top public health nurse Viv Bennett (News November 19). I am also pleased that one of the five points of the Healthy Helpings charter is to ensure that vending machines are stocked with water instead of soft drinks.

Many nurses, especially those working on acute hospital wards, spend a great deal of time each day encouraging their patients to take plenty of fluids and keep well hydrated. Many of those same nurses do not maintain an adequate level of hydration for themselves, particularly on long, busy shifts.

We must look after our colleagues and ourselves, as well as our patients. It is important to use every opportunity to have a drink, particularly when we are busy and rushed off our feet. Part of our responsibility for making sure we are in a good position to look after those in our care involves looking after our own health and wellbeing.

Helen Burns: Competition is key when it comes to fast-food outlets

Published in print: Nursing Standard, 14 January 2015

When University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust announced that it was ending its contract with Burger King and not renewing the fast-food outlet’s concession at the city’s general hospital, patients launched a campaign against the closure (News January 7).

They claimed that the quality of its food was better than that offered by the hospital. If so, that is a sad indictment of the hospital’s catering services.

The problem with hospital concessions to food outlets is that there is limited space on offer and few sizeable areas to be rented out. So it is a choice of a single concession – no competition – and take it or leave it.

The hospital needs the concession income, so lets the space to a large supplier such as Burger King that can pay a premium rent.

In an ideal world, I would like to see a range of retail outlets side by side in the hospital and in competition with each other in terms of choice, price and opening hours.

Given that this seems impractical in most settings, perhaps temporary pop-up premises or stalls such as we are seeing on many high streets and markets might be another option.