NHS Food to be Improved Under New Measures

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Published: 31 Aug 2014      

Mandatory food standardsare to be introduced to NHS hospitals to ensure that the food patients are served is up to the level required to provide good healthcare.

Under the changes, which will be legally binding and carry consequences for any hospital that fails to meet them, all patients will be regularly checked for malnutrition and the majority will also be given a specialised food and drink plan created to best help them overcome their particular affliction.

The plans have been developed following a report by the Hospital Food Standard Panel, which criticised current policies and encourage hospitals to ensure their patients are eating healthily. They also recommened a scoring system for hospitals to demonstrate areas that need improvement, with reuslts to be posted publically online to ensure standards are met.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented: "Patients say the quality of food at their hospital is one of the most important things in their stay, on top of which we know that if you give people healthy, nutritious food it means they recover more quickly, they stay in hospital for a shorter amount of time and it costs the NHS less, so there are lots of reasons why this is very important."

The changes will be included in all new NHS contracts relating to food and the general care of patients, however they will not formally be written into law which has raised fears that they may be bypassed through creating poor contracts with suppliers.

Alex Jackson, coordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, expressed concerns over this stating: "We're also alarmed that the Government's food standards are weak and only reflect basic catering and care standards, which are already commonly implemented in the NHS, including that 'tap water is available' to patients.

"Good things in themselves, but nowhere near ambitious enough to have a transformative effect on patient meals."

As such it appears that the reforms will likely not be far reaching enough to placate such groups, who will likely continue to campaign for such changes to be made law and ensure no loopholes can be exploited. However it is a positive move in the right direction and many are hailing it as the end of poor quality hospital food that only provides for the most basic nutritional needs of patients.

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