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Readers’ panel: Should sugary drinks be banned from NHS hospitals?

In an effort to tackle obesity among health service employees, NHS England has launched a consultation on plans including an outright ban on sugary drinks in NHS hospitals. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say.
Sugary drink

In an effort to tackle obesity among health service employees, NHS England has launched a consultation on plans including an outright ban on sugary drinks in NHS hospitals. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse in Nottingham @Lizcharalambou

Governments must drive the agenda for supporting healthy behaviours through taxation and policy, yet power lies with huge corporations that spend millions advertising their products. Unless there is a broad, multi-faceted, universal approach to tackling lifestyles and behaviours that affect health, banning sugary drinks is just a drop in the ocean. We also need to keep a sense of perspective in the hospital environment; a terminally ill patient may need the comfort of a last cigarette, or someone with diabetes may need a sugary drink to

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In an effort to tackle obesity among health service employees, NHS England has launched a consultation on plans including an outright ban on sugary drinks in NHS hospitals. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say


Should sugary drinks be banned from NHS hospital premises? Picture: iStock


Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse in Nottingham 
@Lizcharalambou

Liz Charalambous

Governments must drive the agenda for supporting healthy behaviours through taxation and policy, yet power lies with huge corporations that spend millions advertising their products. Unless there is a broad, multi-faceted, universal approach to tackling lifestyles and behaviours that affect health, banning sugary drinks is just a drop in the ocean. We also need to keep a sense of perspective in the hospital environment; a terminally ill patient may need the comfort of a last cigarette, or someone with diabetes may need a sugary drink to prevent hypoglycaemia. Who are we to dictate?


Drew Payne is  community staff nurse in London 
@drew_london 

Drew Payne

Banning sugary drinks is a move in the right direction, but it isn’t the complete solution. Ensuring staff have realistic workloads and are able to take their breaks in decent staff rooms would be a better start, along with reducing workplace stress and making it easier for staff to take up exercise. A lot more needs to be done to promote staff health. We are the NHS’s biggest resource, yet our well-being is the lowest priority. Who cares about NHS staff? Not the NHS, it would seem. 
 


Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester 
@JaneScullion 

Jane Scullion

On the face of it, banning substances such as sugar and tobacco seems sensible. But what this doesn’t do is change behaviour – it just pushes it underground and the problem continues. What we have to do as a society is change our tolerance levels and challenge and support those with unhealthy habits to change their behaviour. Of course obesity shouldn’t be the norm, but sugary drinks are not the cause, they are an adjunct to lifestyle choices. 


Steve Flatt is director of the psychological therapies unit in Liverpool

This is another rather unfortunate and inept attempt by NHS bosses to seek a simplistic solution to a complex problem. Over the past 50 years, we have been encouraged by the food and drink industry to consume more to increase manufacturers’ profits, and are now reaping the consequences of this irresponsible, unregulated behaviour. Trying to change nurses’ behaviour, or vilifying them, will make little or no difference. This is another half-baked, nanny-state approach from the NHS.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

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