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