Hospitals should be forced to meet minimum food standards – Labour

Quality of hospital food should be enforced by legal standards, says Labour health shadow
hospital meal tray

Quality of hospital food should be enforced by legal standards, says Labour health shadow

Picture: PA Wire

The Labour Party is calling for mandatory minimum standards for hospital food because some hospitals are spending less than £3 per patient per day on meals.

NHS Digital data show that in 2016/17, one hospital spent just £2.61.

Follow the lead of schools

Labour said official standards for hospital food, similar to those observed in schools, would ensure patients receive nutritious meals. Standards might also encourage transparency about where the money is being spent, the party believes.

In a speech to the Hospital Caterers’ Association annual conference in Newport today, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was to say: ‘Patient care isn’t just about medicines, bandages, treatments and surgical procedures, its about nutrition and hydration as well.

‘And yet we have allowed a situation where some hospitals, according to the official data, are spending less than £3 a day on patient meals.

‘Labour would invest in nutrition’

‘Unlike schools and prisons there are no mandatory minimum requirements for hospital meals, so the next Labour government will substantially increase investment in our NHS to improve patient care including providing the nutritious meals patients deserve.

‘Labour will place hospital food standards on the same legal basis as school food standards, to ensure hospitals meet mandatory minimum standards for food and these standards should be independently monitored and enforced.’

Campaign for Better Hospital Food coordinator Katherine Button said: ‘We warmly welcome this. Under the coalition government, food standards were introduced in NHS hospital contracts, but we know that at least half of hospitals are still not complying, and that the current government is failing to encourage progress.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We have introduced the first ever legally-binding food standards in the history of the NHS, and continue to press for high standards.’

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