Editorial

A more palatable approach to hospital food

A Nursing Standard investigation suggests that there has been a small but welcome improvement in standards and a reduction in food waste.

Hospital food has such a poor reputation that it has long been the butt of jokes, but there are signs that some of the jibes are no longer appropriate.

A Nursing Standard investigation suggests that there has been a small but welcome improvement in the standard of food being served to patients.

NHS organisations still receive complaints aplenty, and some may make you feel queasy. Fancy a slug in your sandwich or an empty medicine packet in your salad? No, I thought not. But given the number of meals consumed every day, an average of four formal complaints per NHS trust in the whole of 2015-16 seems remarkably low.

Financial pressures

As ever with the health service, resources lie at the heart of the issue. In recent times, too many managers have seen outsourcing to catering firms as an opportunity to save money, but have failed to pay due attention to quality.

In the face of falling standards, successive governments have succumbed to gimmickry, enlisting the services of a long line of celebrity chefs in a bid to show that something was being done. But none of the schemes could be labelled a success, and now NHS Improvement seems to be adopting a more sensible approach.

Our investigation of 106 NHS trusts shows that many have increased their catering budgets and devised schemes that have reduced waste. This is welcome news, given the pressure on their finances, and will save money in the long term if patients recover better and more quickly.

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