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Hospital staff 'more likely to be served fresh food than patients'

NHS staff are more than twice as likely as patients to be served fresh food in hospitals, according to a new report

NHS staff are more than twice as likely as patients to be served fresh food in hospitals, according to a new report.

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food found that just 30% of London hospitals cooked food fresh on-site for patients, but 77% had canteens offering fresh food to staff.

Almost a fifth (17%) of hospitals also served food to patients in ready-meal packaging, the investigation found. Furthermore, a fifth of hospitals fail to provide a hot meal for patients who miss a mealtime.

Legal requirements

Half of the hospitals surveyed are also failing to meet basic standards for nutrition and hydration. The campaign is now calling for tough new legal requirements for patient food similar to those in prisons and schools.

New

NHS staff are more than twice as likely as patients to be served fresh food in hospitals, according to a new report.


More than 50% of London hospitals are failing to meet food standards for patients
Picture: Charles Milligan

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food found that just 30% of London hospitals cooked food fresh on-site for patients, but 77% had canteens offering fresh food to staff.

Almost a fifth (17%) of hospitals also served food to patients in ready-meal packaging, the investigation found. Furthermore, a fifth of hospitals fail to provide a hot meal for patients who miss a mealtime.

Legal requirements

Half of the hospitals surveyed are also failing to meet basic standards for nutrition and hydration. The campaign is now calling for tough new legal requirements for patient food similar to those in prisons and schools.

New Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith, who is backing the campaign, said: 'Hospital food has a deservedly poor reputation and NHS patients and staff deserve better.

'Our hope is that it will be obvious to hospital trusts and government that if they mean to tackle poor catering standards, they will have to face up to some increased spending.

'A meal of good, fresh ingredients prepared by skilled cooks might cost marginally more than a pre-frozen meal from a far-away factory.'

Extending standards

Jo Ralling, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation campaign manager and supporter of the campaign, said: 'We've had legal food standards for schools and prisons for a decade, there's no reason we can't extend these same protections to hospitals. Let's all work together to get NHS patients and staff the good healthy food they deserve.'

Katherine Button, coordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: 'Good food plays an essential role in recovery, well-being and morale, and patients and staff in NHS hospitals deserve better.

'The standard of food in schools and in prisons is protected by legal minimum standards and we demand the same high quality food for patients, staff and visitors eating in hospitals.'

NHS Improvement, which is responsible for hospital food policy, told Nursing Standard: 'Patients in every hospital deserve the best quality care and this includes good nutrition.

'Improvements to be made'

'All NHS hospitals are legally bound to meet the food standards set by the Hospital Food Standards Panel, which relate to patient nutrition and hydration, healthier eating for NHS staff and visitors, and sustainable food and catering services.

'Hospital food ratings are published on the NHS choices website so patients can compare standards and so hospitals are motivated to improve food quality. However, this report illustrates where things could be done better and we expect all hospitals to take note and examine what more they could be doing to improve food provision for their patients.'


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