Hospital food recommendations "don't go far enough"

FCSI UK & Ireland release a statement on hospital food standards published by Department of Health and Age UK


Niccola Boyd-Stevenson, chair of FCSI UK & Ireland has responded to the UK Department of Health’s Hospital Food Standards Panel report, published today, that recommends a set of food standards that should become routine practice across NHS Hospitals. The report, she feels, is not far extensive enough to bring foodservice standards in UK hospitals up to the levels that are now expected in schools.

Here is Boyd-Stevenson’s statement on the report:

“The standard and quality of hospital food has been an area of concern for decades, so we’re pleased that the government has recognised that it is a critical issue. However, the basic standards published by the Department of Health don’t go far enough to address the core problems in the National Health Service’s catering provision.

“The new standards, which hospitals will be required to meet, are very basic – such as providing tap water. They address patient nutrition and hydration but regrettably not the quality of overall catering and there have been no minimum standards set. If we can enforce national nutritional standards for schools, why can’t we do the same for hospitals?

“Good food is an essential part of the whole care process and instrumental in patient recovery. But for hospitals to provide a quality food experience, we need to address several age-old problems that continue to restrict many hospitals. This includes providing trained catering staff whom are dedicated to delivering meals and helping patients who need assistance, choice of meals and protected mealtimes. There also needs to be a clear and consistent allocation of budget to catering services so that hospitals that have quality issues can improve. These key areas don’t appear to have been considered in the standards.

“The government has committed to include the standards in future contracts, but there is no real legal obligation for hospitals or enforcement. The Care Quality Commission has been tasked with rating the standard of food in its annual care report, but it is a stretched resource and will struggle to deliver the transparency we’ve been promised. And, issuing fines to those trusts that don’t meet the standards will only take valuable funds away from other areas of care.

“Industry associations such as the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and FCSI have the tools and experience required to assist the government in terms of quality and nutrition for food, but traditionally there has been a reluctance to use these. Sadly, this is still the case today.”