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Half of English hospitals failing to meet mandatory food standards, report reveals

A new report reveals almost half of the hospitals in England are failing to meet mandatory food standards – two years after the government introduced them.

A new report reveals almost half of the hospitals in England are failing to meet mandatory food standards – two years after the government introduced them.

Food inside hospitals
Hospitals are failing to meet food standards set by the government, a report has found. Picture: iStock

The Hospital Food Standards Panel (HFSP) published its findings recently, revealing only 54% of hospitals were fully compliant in its 10 key areas. These include screening patients for signs or risk of malnutrition, as well as making the timing of meals and drinks flexible to meet needs during day or night.

Screening is generally carried out using the five-step Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST). Again, only about half of hospitals were able to show that they had screened every patient.

Common problem 

Commenting on the report, National Nurses Nutrition Group chair Liz Anderson told Nursing Standard: ‘Screening is paramount. Malnutrition is a common clinical and public health problem which is found in all care settings, all disease categories and all ages.

‘It will affect healing, it will contribute to the formation of pressure ulcers, patients are more likely to develop infections and there is an increased risk of falls.’

 Ms Anderson outlined the checks nurses could do in hospital settings, including:

  • Is the patient constantly eating less than half their meals?
  • Are they falling asleep at meal times?
  • Are they refusing to eat past a certain time?
  • Are they fatiguing easily when eating?

More to be done 

Ms Anderson added: ‘Nutrition nurse specialists can lead from the front to raise awareness and promote good nutritional care. Hospital food is not a hotel service and should not be given to the cheapest bidder.’

HFSP expressed satisfaction with the improvements made since 2015 and said that 84% of hospitals (1,028 out of 1,227) had a food and drink strategy now in place, but warned that more had to be done.

In February, responsibility for hospital food policy transfers from NHS England to NHS Improvement.


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