We've all had times when we felt uncomfortable and reluctant to eat, especially as a hospital patient, or when we resorted to unhealthy eating when we were busy, tired or stressed at work. However, a nutritious meal can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health, as well as our ability to recover from illness or surgery.
The NHS is one of the largest food and drink providers in the country, serving more than 199 million meals a year to patients, staff and visitors, but we know that hospital catering isn't always so good that she could be.
As part of Phil's independent review of hospital food (2020), recommendations highlighted the need to update food and beverage standards to ensure patients, staff and visitors have food options of quality, safe and nutritious wherever they are in the country.
That's why we've worked with an expert group of caterers, nurses, doctors, nutritionists and 20 exemplary trusts to develop eight new national standards for hospital food for patients, staff and visitors. , which all NHS organizations are required by law to comply with. part of the standard NHS contract.
All organizations subject to the NHS standard contract must adhere to the following standards, which build on work already underway across the country:Organizations must have an elected director on the board responsible for food (nutrition and safety) and report on compliance with food and beverage health standards as a standing agenda item. day at board level. Organizations must have a food and beverage strategy. Organizations should ensure they have access to appropriate dietary advice and support. Organizations must appoint a food safety specialist. Organizations must invest in a quality workforce and improved staffing, and recognize the complex knowledge and skills that chefs and hospitality teams need to deliver safe catering services. Organizations must be able to demonstrate that they have an established training matrix and learning and development program for all staff involved in food and beverage healthcare; and Organizations must take steps to monitor their food waste, manage all waste generated, and take steps to reduce food waste for leftover plates, manufacturing waste, and unearned food. Organizations must provide appropriate catering solutions to all employees over a 24/7 duty period.
What do the standards mean for patients and staff?
These standards mean that NHS staff and patients have access to nutritious food and drink, every day of the week, at all times of the day and night. All NHS organizations will have access to dietary expertise to better support patient recovery and overall health.
The standards also include measures to ensure the quality, safety and sustainability of the food supply and to reduce food waste for patients, staff and visitors in acute care, mental health and community settings.
How are they implemented?
It is not one size fits all – organizations have the flexibility to implement the standards in a way that is appropriate and achievable in their local context.
The good news is that around 60% of trusts in England already meet the standards or are in a good position to do so.
We are already seeing good examples, including at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust where they have introduced menus for patients and staff with new chefs and superb 24/7 facilities. A team of ELHT chefs were worthy winners of the inaugural NHS Chef 2021 competition, showing the high standards of food available at the Trust.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has built a central production kitchen which prepares 3,000 meals a day for patients at their sites. The state-of-the-art kitchen allows Trust chefs to prepare and store fresh meals safely and efficiently, reducing food waste and receiving excellent patient feedback.
These standards will build on the good work already done in many organizations to ensure that patients, visitors and staff receive a good, healthy meal when they enter a hospital, no matter where they are in the country.
Find out more about the standards on the NHS England website.