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Readers panel: should hospital food have to meet legal standards for quality?

An investigation by Nursing Standard uncovered 471 food-related complaints at 106 NHS trusts in England in 2015-16. Campaigners have called for the introduction of legal standards for the quality of hospital food, and for food and drink to be considered as important as medicine. Nursing Standard readers have their say

An investigation by Nursing Standard uncovered 471 food-related complaints at 106 NHS trusts in England in 2015-16. Campaigners have called for the introduction of legal standards for the quality of hospital food, and for food and drink to be considered as important as medicine. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Yes. Patients who are sick and recovering need food of a good standard and quality, otherwise much of our hard work is undone. Long-term inpatient wards would benefit from on-site kitchens and staff, allowing patients to be included in food preparation where appropriate. Wards with faster patient turnover could use pre-made meals, as long as more is done to ensure they are high quality. If patients

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An investigation by Nursing Standard uncovered 471 food-related complaints at 106 NHS trusts in England in 2015-16. Campaigners have called for the introduction of legal standards for the quality of hospital food, and for food and drink to be considered as important as medicine. Nursing Standard readers have their say


Offering patients good quality food could bring cost savings as well as health benefits. Picture: iStock

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London 

Yes. Patients who are sick and recovering need food of a good standard and quality, otherwise much of our hard work is undone. Long-term inpatient wards would benefit from on-site kitchens and staff, allowing patients to be included in food preparation where appropriate. Wards with faster patient turnover could use pre-made meals, as long as more is done to ensure they are high quality. If patients were happier with the quality of food, less would be thrown away, making it more cost-effective. 

 

Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester 
@JaneScullion 

Whether it’s for patients in hospital or members of staff, hospital food should meet legal standards. I have seen the quality of food go downhill steadily over the years, with the sick and the well given substandard offerings that have often been frozen and then nuked to within an inch of their lives. From the time of Florence Nightingale, the value of cleanliness and good food in improving health have been noticeable. Primum non nocere (first do no harm).

 

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London 
@drew_london 

Hospital food has been a joke for years. As a ward nurse, I used to apologise to patients for the poor quality of their food, and when I was in hospital last year, I ate sandwiches from the vending machines rather than the awful food provided for patients. Spending on patients’ food remains low and is unlikely to increase with current NHS funding, but good nutrition aids recovery. We need proper funding and the political will to improve the quality of hospital food.

 

Linda Drake is a practice nurse in south London 

There is little point in spending huge sums on expensive drugs and treatments if patients leave hospital malnourished. I was recently a patient at London’s King’s College Hospital, where they have overhauled catering to make it more responsive to individual patient appetites. The food served was delicious and I actually looked forward to meal times as a way of breaking up the long days. They have also managed to make huge reductions in food waste, which shows what can be achieved even on a limited budget.

 

Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

 

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