Will new DH standards for hospital food improve patient nutrition?
Some hospitals are failing to provide patients with high quality and healthy meals, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt warned last week.
Jeremy Hunt said that while some organisations were delivering decent food and drink for patients, others are “falling short”.
In a move to crack down on inadequate hospital catering, Mr Hunt announced a set of standards to ensure that patients receive nutritious and appetising food throughout their hospital stay.
Teams of inspectors, half of whom will be patients, will examine the taste, quality and temperature of food as well as the cleanliness of ward kitchens.
The fundamental food principles are:
- Nutritious and appetising hospital food and drink is an essential part of the personal package of care and hospitals should take all reasonable steps to ensure that patients have a healthy food experience;
- All patients should be able to choose from a reasonably varied menu that meets their social and religious needs whilst complementing their clinical care requirements;
- All patients should have access at all times to fresh drinking water, unless this is contraindicated by their clinical condition;
- Access to food and drink outside planned mealtimes should be available where appropriate;
- Hospitals should promote a healthy diet to their staff and visitors;
- The criteria set out in the Government Buying Standards for Food should be adopted as standard where practical and supported by procurement practices;
- Hospitals should regularly evaluate their food services and act on feedback from patients, demonstrating improvement and aiming to achieve and maintain excellence; and
- Commissioners of NHS-funded care should seek and reward excellence in hospital food when contracting services.
- Guidance on hospital food revealed, Nursing Times