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Prince Charles praises nurses for hospital food improvement


The food hospital patients are given “should help rather than hinder recovery”, the Prince of Wales said yesterday at a reception to celebrate trusts that have improved the quality of their catering. 

Senior nurses and NHS managers from 14 acute and mental health trusts were praised by Prince Charles for their efforts to improve food standards at the Soil Association event, held at Clarence House in London.

The association, of which the Prince of Wales is a patron, identified the trusts as examples of “brilliant practice” in its First aid for hospital food report, published in February this year.

The report called on other trusts to follow their example, claiming that “failure to provide decent, tasty, healthy food is a result of an indefensible failure by those in charge of hospitals to understand the basic importance of good food to good health”.

Addressing representatives from the 14 trusts, the Prince of Wales said: “My only hope over the coming years is to persuade more hospitals to match your achievements.”

He said: “We are what we eat and…It can make a difference to the way we heal, or not.

“The food hospital patients are given should help rather than hinder recovery.”

He added: “Good quality, well prepared simple meals of great importance to improving patient satisfaction.”

Matron Lucy Mills attended the reception on behalf of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which sources virtually all of its fruit and vegetables from within Sussex.

She told Nursing Times the freshness of the food meant it was more nutritious and telling patients their food was sourced locally helped spark interest at meal times, which was “positive” and could aid therapy.

Bedford Hospital NHS Trust director of nursing Eiri Jones, who also attended the event, said: “In-house catering is an important message. It’s all linked to patient outcomes.”

She explained that the trust provided “out of hours snack boxes” for patients, such as those with diabetes, and afternoon cakes for dementia patients, as it was “really important to get the calories into them”.

Ms Jones added that, by the end of January, all of the hospital’s wards would have done the Productive Ward nutrition module.

Also present at the event was celebrity chef James Martin, who hosted the BBC TV series Operation Hospital Food in September. The five programmes focused on his attempts to improve the standard of food at Scarborough General Hospital in North Yorkshire.

He told Nursing Times “food is medicine” and the trusts highlighted by the Soil Association were “inspiring”. “These people here are doing a great job,” he said.

He added that he wanted to extend the project he had begun in Scarborough. He said: “We want to work with six hospitals next year. Even if it’s to change soup, it’s a massive difference.”

The 14 organisations present at the reception were:

  • Royal Brompton Hospital
  • Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation
  • North Bristol NHS Trust
  • South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust
  • Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Darlington Memorial Hospital
  • Braintree Community Hospital,
  • Bedford Memorial Hospital
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • St Andrews Healthcare Trust
  • NHS Lothian

Readers' comments (15)

  • Perhaps putting as much funding into hospital food as the prisons get would help.

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  • frankly this is beyond all belief that there is a need for such associations, the need for a reception hosted by Prince Charles and that it should be attended by 'senior' staff!

    Surely good care and adequate nutrition and hydration in hospitals is a given and not something to be praised and have parties for. Care for patients means sleeves rolled up and hands on not sitting in offices all day, running around with clipboards or attending parties to accumulate praise - the NHS isn't Hollywood or do these managers expect NHS funding to extend to red carpets for them to walk along and Oscar like prizes?

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  • Anonymous | 18-Dec-2011 5:32 am

    My thoughts exactly when I read this article. I wonder how many of those Senior nurses and NHS managers have actually seen a patient in recent times?!

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  • Perhaps the praise should go to those who actually source and cook the meals rather than Matrons and other Senior Nurses...

    Can't remember when I last saw a matron do any patient care - and I have never seen them cook a nutritious meal!!!

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  • Anonymous | 20-Dec-2011 1:42 pm
    from Anonymous | 18-Dec-2011 5:32 am

    very well said. why weren't they the ones invited to the the party if there really had to be a party at all.

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  • Mags | 18-Dec-2011 9:49 am

    "I wonder how many of those Senior nurses and NHS managers have actually seen a patient in recent times?!"

    Very few I should think, Mags. They are too busy attending receptions celebrating the hard work of others.

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  • There cannot be any 'improvement' in hospital food until a logical amount of food 'requirement' is addressed which leads to obesity.
    The amount of protein per day for example. During the first world war Dr. Hindbede , due to food restriction , found one gram of protein per day for every ten pounds of person is all that is required to survive.
    The government's nutritionists and / or doctors / RDA tell us we need four grams of protein per day per ten pounds of person. That is quite the difference. Four to one. THAT amount of protein is only achieved pretty much by eating meat.
    Which might help to explain how everyone seems to be getting obese.
    Too much food.

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  • what has happened to hospital ward and kitchen dietitians an nutritionists? Are they no longer employed to work in the NHS? is there shortage as there seems to be in other vital clinical roles? or are they simply not doing their work?

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  • I do hope that the kitchen staff involved received the praise, albeit not in person.

    However, I would like to argue against this negativity about senior nurses. They have worked their way up, having started on the 'shop floor' and I'm sure many have the patients at heart, even if they don't see them much now. I know I do. On top of this, senior nurses and managers are essential to provide leadership and management, however much some of you appear to hate them. Grow up.

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  • "Grow up."

    how insulting!

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